American Beauty (1999)
         
Directed by
Sam Mendes 
         
Written by 
Alan Ball
      Kevin Spacey........................... Lester Burnham 
Annette Bening........................ Carolyn Burnham 
Thora Birch.............................. Jane Burnham 
Wes Bentley............................... Ricky Fitts 
Mena Suvari.............................. Angela Hayes 
Peter Gallagher............................ Buddy Kane 
Chris Cooper.. ................... Colonel Frank Fitts 
Allison Janney.......................... Barbara Fitts 
Scott Bakula.............................. Jim Olmeyer 
Sam Robards............................... Jim Berkley 
Barry Del Sherman......................... Brad Dupree
                           AMERICAN BEAUTY

     FADE IN:

 1   INT. JAIL CELL - DAY                                           1   

     EXTREME CLOSE-UP on a DROP of WATER, gathering at the tip of 
     a faucet, a FLASH of LIGHT refracting through it just before 
     it FALLS.......

     PULLING back slowly, we see ANOTHER DROP of WATER gather and 
     FALL... and then ANOTHER... into a METAL SINK BASIN filled 
     with water, rippling in concentric circles with each DROP, 
     which we HEAR in a steady rhythm: DRIP... DRIP... DRIP...

                           RICKY (O.S.)
                    (singing in time to 
                    the water dripping)
               I'M FIXING A HOLE... WHERE THE RAIN 
               GETS IN....

     REVERSE ANGLE on the face of a YOUNG MAN with his hair cut 
     short, military-style, watching the dripping water as if 
     hypnotized. We ZOOM slowly toward him...

     This is RICKY FITTS.  He's twenty, but his eyes are much 
     older. Underneath his Zen-like tranquility lurks something 
     wounded... and dangerous. He SINGS softly  to himself:

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               AND STOPS MY MIND FROM WANDERING...

     Through the bars of his CELL we see RICKY is seated on the 
     edge of a solitary cot in a JAIL CELL, staring intently at 
     the metal sink on the wall across from him..

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               WHERE IT WILL GO...

 2   ON TELEVISION: INT. COURTROOM - DAY                            2   

     A sullen TEENAGE GIRL sits at a table in a COURTROOM, 
     surrounded by lawyers. SUPERIMPOSED across the bottom of 
     screen:  TEENAGE GIRL ACCUSED of HIRING FATHER'S KILLER.  At 
     the lower right corner is the JUSTICE TV logo. In the upper 
     right corner: LIVE.

     This girl is JANE BURNHAM. Seventeen-years-old, with dark, 
     intense eyes. She stares blankly at the table in front of 
     her.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 2
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                           D.A. (O.S.)
               Would you please tell the court how 
               long you and the defendant have been 
               friends?

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
               Uh, we've known each other since 
               like, fifth grade? But we didn't 
               really become friends until this 
               past year?

     Jane looks up, her eyes hostile, at:

     Seated on the witness stand is seventeen-year-old ANGELA 
     HAYES. Strikingly beautiful, with perfect, even features, 
     blonde hair, and a nubile young body, she's the archetypal 
     American dream girl. She is being questioned by a DISTRICT 
     ATTORNEY.

                           D.A.
               During that time, did Jane ever say 
               she disliked her father?

 3   INT. COURTROOM - CONTINUOUS                                    3   

     We're now in the courtroom, where the JUSTICE TV CAMERAS 
     focus on Angela as the D.A. questions her.

                           ANGELA
               Yes.

                           D.A.
               Exactly how did she say it?

                           ANGELA
               Uh, she said she hated his guts, and 
               wished he was dead.

                           D.A.
               Did she tell you why?

     Angela hesitates, hot eager to answer this.  Finally:

                           ANGELA
               She said he was just too embarrassing 
               to live, okay?

     ANGELA looks at JANE, who stares at her with absolute hatred.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               She said both of her parents were 
               totally embarrassing, but her dad
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 3
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                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               was like, way beyond?  And somebody 
               had to take him out. But she said 
               her mom was just pathetic and probably 
               didn't deserve to like, die.

     Elsewhere IN the COURTROOM, a very well-put-together WOMAN 
     of forty stifles a SOB. This is Jane's mother, CAROLYN 
     BURNHAM.

     back on the witness stand, ANGELA looks contrite.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I'm sorry, Mrs. Burnham, but she 
               did.

     At her table, JANE buries her face IN her hands.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               You did. You said it.

 4   INT. POLICE STATION - LOBBY - DAY                              4   

     A suburban POLICE station. PHONES RINGING, officers with 
     clipboards, lowlifes being booked. The usual.

     The front door opens and COLONEL FRANK FITTS enters, carrying 
     a MANILA ENVELOPE. He's fifty, quite handsome, his graying 
     hair cut short, military-style. He still moves like the 
     athlete he once was, but his eyes tell us he's not happy, 
     and hasn't been for some time. As he approaches the front 
     desk, the uniformed clerk behind it looks up at him 
     impassively.

                           COLONEL
               I need to speak to Detective 
               Fleishman.

 5   INT. POLICE STATION - DETECTIVE'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER       5   

     DETECTIVE FLEISHMAN, paunchy and constantly exhausted, opens 
     the door to his office and motions Colonel Fitts inside.

                           FLEISHMAN
               Colonel Pitts.  How goes it?
                    (off his look)
               Forgive me.  That was a stupid 
               question, after everything you've 
               been through.

     He shows the COLONEL to a chair, then sits behind his desk.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 4
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                           FLEISHMAN (CONT'D)
               So what can I do for you?

     The COLONEL sighs, looking at the MANILA ENVELOPE He holds.

                           COLONEL
               I found something. I think you should 
               take a look at it.

                           FLEISHMAN
               Okay.

     But the COLONEL just sits there, holding the envelope.

                           COLONEL
               I don't want to do this.
                    (fighting back tears)
               But I was taught a little thing called 
               duty. Something I wasn't able to 
               teach my own son...

     He breaks down. FLEISHMAN crosses to him and places his hand 
     on his shoulder. The Colonel shrugs it off, violently.

                           COLONEL (CONT'D)
               No.

     Respectfully, FLEISHMAN steps back. the COLONEL pulls himself 
     together and hands over the envelope, without looking up.

     Fleishman studies the envelope as he walks back to his desk, 
     then opens it and takes out an unmarked HI-8 VIDEOCASSETTE. 
     He looks at the Colonel quizzically.

 6   INT. JAIL CELL - DAY                                           6   

     RICKY sits motionless, still focused on the DRIPPING water.

                           RICKY
                    (singing softly)
               I'M FILLING THE CRACKS that RAN 
               THROUGH THE DOOR...

     ON TELEVISION:

     A rapid-fire MONTAGE of VIDEO IMAGERY taken from recent news 
     footage,      intercut with CELEBRITIES and scantily-clad 
     MODELS of both sexes, accompanied by HEADBANGER MUSIC. THE 
     REAL DIRT logo spins quickly into place, with exaggerated

     SOUND EFFECTS.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 5
     9-29-00                                                     


     ON TELEVISION: INT. TABLOID news SHOW SET A telegenic 
     ANCHORPERSON addresses us. SUPERIMPOSED at lower left is THE 
     REAL DIRT logo.  Behind the Anchorperson is an INSET GRAPHIC 
     of Jane and Ricky.

                           ANCHORPERSON
                    (Australian accent)
               Lester Burnham.  Brutally murdered 
               in cold blood, allegedly the victim 
               of a teenage psychopath hired by his 
               own daughter, Jane.  The case that 
               has outraged America, has now become 
               even more shocking. Tonight on The 
               Real Dirt, we'll show you - for the 
               first time anywhere - an astonishing 
               videotape in which Jane and alleged 
               killer Richard Fitts actually make 
               their unholy pact.

     ON VIDEO: INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - DAY

     JANE is leaning back IN bed, naked, smoking a joint. still 
     SUPERIMPOSED at lower left is THE REAL DIRT logo, and Jane's 
     breasts have been digitally BLURRED.

                           JANE
               I need a father who's a role model, 
               not some horny geek-boy who's gonna 
               spray his shorts whenever I bring a 
               girlfriend home from school.
                    (snorts)
               Like he'd ever have a chance with 
               her. What a lame-o. Somebody really 
               should put him out of his misery.

     A beat. JANE plays with her hair, lost IN thought.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Want me to kill him for you?

     JANE stares at the camera incredulously, then LAUGHS.

                           JANE
               Yeah, would you?

 7   INT. COURT - DAY                                               7   

     We're TRACKING slowly across the mesmerized faces of the 
     jury as they watch the videotape.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               It'll cost you.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 6
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                           JANE (O.S.)
               I've been baby-sitting since I was 
               ten, I've got almost three thousand 
               dollars.

     We see the tape as it plays on the VIDEO MONITOR SET UP IN 
     the front of the courtroom.  This time there is no THE REAL 
     DIRT logo nor any digital blurring of Jane's nudity.

     ON THE MONITOR: JANE sits UP IN bed, smiling.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I was saving it for a boob job.

     ON THE MONITOR: JANE stands and shakes her breasts.

     In the courtroom, Jane's mother Carolyn watches, stunned, 
     gripping the arm of a well-dressed, silver-haired MAN at her 
     side.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               But my tits can wait.

     Jane watches from her seat, her face a mixture of anger, 
     disbelief and helplessness. We ZOOM toward her slowly.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               You know, that's not a very nice 
               thing to do, hiring somebody to kill 
               your dad.

     Tears spill from her blinking eyes, But she remains silent.

     ON THE MONITOR: Jane is back on the bed.

                           JANE
               Well, I guess I'm just not a very 
               nice girl, then, am I?

     ON THE MONITOR: she leans back and smiles dreamily at us.

 8   INT. JAIL CELL - DAY                                           8   

     CLOSE on Ricky as he leans back on his cot, staring up at 
     us, the same dreamy smile on his face.

                           RICKY
                    (singing softly)
               I'M TAKING THE TIME FOR A NUMBER
               of THINGS... that WEREN'T IMPORTANT 
               YESTERDAY...

     FADE to BLACK.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 7
     9-29-00                                                     


     In darkness, we HEAR Vic Damone singing "I'M NOBODY'S BABY," 
     as the words "ONE YEAR EARLIER" FADE IN AND OUT.

     FADE IN:

 9   EXT. SUBURB - EARLY MORNING                                    9   

     We're FLYING high above an upper middle class SUBURB.  The 
     wide streets are lined with stately elms and sycamores; the 
     homes are traditional and well-kept.  Coming closer to the 
     ground, we pick out a couple of male JOGGER.

     A DIFFERENT ANGLE on the Joggers. We're at level now, MOVING 
     alongside them. They're both in their thirties, athletic, 
     blandly handsome. They pass a STREET SIGN that  reads Robin 
     Hood Trail.

     Suddenly, a MAN comes into view, FLYING Superman-style about 
     three feet above their heads. He's wearing old-fashioned 
     PAJAMAS, and a plaid flannel ROBE. As he passes overhead, 
     the Joggers look up and wave excitedly, like children. He 
     flashes them a grin and waves back, then he speeds up, leaving 
     them behind.

     As the MAN flies down the street, a BARKING DOG runs along 
     beneath him, jumping into the air, trying to catch him. The 
     Man swoops and dips effortlessly, teasing the dog, then spots, 
     at the end of the street, a young boy on a bicycle tossing 
     newspapers onto people's porches, or as close as he can get.

     Seeing the flying Man, the boy tosses a paper high into the 
     air. The dog tears off to catch the paper. The flying Man 
     LAUGHS and shoots upward like he's been blown out of a cannon, 
     grabs the paper, and swoops down, dropping it lightly on the 
     front porch of a well-appointed, two-story HOUSE with 
     distinctive CEDAR SHINGLE SIDING and a RED FRONT DOOR.

     The boy on the bike watches IN admiration. the MAN slowly 
     floats by above him and tousles his hair. The dog BARKS. The 
     boy throws another newspaper into the air, this time even 
     higher than before, and the Man grins as he prepares to shoot 
     up after it: this is going to be fun... and we SMASH CUT TO:

10   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - DAY                     10   

     We HEAR the harsh BUZZ of an ALARM CLOCK. Vic Damone still 
     sings "I'M NOBODY'S BABY" elsewhere in the house. Outside, a 
     dog is still BARKING The MAN we just saw FLYING Through the 
     streets lies sleeping amidst expensive bed linens, wearing 
     the same PAJAMAS. His hand reaches over and shuts the ALARM 
     CLOCK OFF; his eyes remain clamped shut as he tries to hang 
     onto his dream.... but it's gone. He sighs and opens his 
     eyes.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 8
     9-29-00                                                     


     This man is LESTER BURNHAM, Carolyn's husband and Jane's 
     father. He's forty-two, with a wide boyish face that's just 
     beginning to droop around the edges.  He sits up in bed and 
     rubs his face.

     We're in a large, comfortable bedroom that's tastefully 
     decorated but not overdone - it could be a spread from 
     Metropolitan Home. Lester gets out of the king-sized bed, 
     crosses to a bay window covered with stylish wooden blinds, 
     lifts one of the slats with his finger and peers through it.

     His POV: A DOG - the same dog from Lester's flying dream -

     BARKS excitedly at us from behind a white picket fence 
     surrounding the front yard of the house across the street.

11   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               11   

     The dog's POV: Lester looks down at us through the bay window 
     of the HOUSE from his dream - we recognize the distinctive 
     CEDAR SHINGLE SIDING. The dog continues to BARK.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               My name is Lester Burnham. I'm forty 
               two-years old. In less than a year, 
               I'll be dead.

12   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BATH - MOMENTS LATER              12   

     We're in the shower with Lester. A waterproof RADIO plays 
     COUNTRY MUSIC. He stands with his face directly in the hot 
     spray, eyes shut.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               In a way, I'm dead already.

     ANGLE from outside the shower: we see Lester's naked body 
     silhouetted through the steamed-up glass door. It becomes 
     apparent he is masturbating.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
                    (amused)
               Look at me jerking off while I listen 
               to country music. I hated this shit 
               when I was growing up.
                    (then)
               Funny thing is, this is the high 
               point of my day. It's all downhill 
               from here.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                              p. 9
     9-29-00                                                     


13   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE FRONT YARD - MOMENTS LATER                 13   

     CLOSE on a single, dewy AMERICAN BEAUTY ROSE, perfect IN 
     shape and color. As we PULL back, a pair of gloved hands 
     with CLIPPERS appear and SNIP the flower off.

     We continue PULLING back to discover Carolyn BURNHAM IN her 
     rose garden in front of the house, cutting flowers and placing 
     them in a basket, a determined, humorless look on her face.

     Even now, she is perfectly put-together; she wears color-
     coordinated gardening togs and has lots of useful and 
     expensive tools.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               That's my wife Carolyn.  See the way 
               the handle on those pruning shears 
               matches her gardening clogs?  That's 
               not an accident 

     In the fenced front YARD of the HOUSE across the street, the 
     familiar dog is still BARKING. A well-groomed, athletic MAN 
     in a conservative suit rolls a blue plastic city GARBAGE 
     CONTAINER up the driveway to the curb.

                           JIM #1
               Bitsy. Hush.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               That's our next-door neighbor Jim.

     A second well-groomed, athletic MAN IN a conservative suit 
     comes out the front door.

                           JIM #2
               What in the world is wrong with her? 
               She had a walk this morning.

                           JIM #1
               And a jerky treat.

                           JIM #2
                    (frowns)
               You spoil her.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
                    (re: the second man)
               And that's his lover Jim.

     We recognize the two Jims as the joggers from Lester's dream.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 10
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JIM #2
                    (sternly)
               Bitsy. No bark. Come inside. Now.

     Bitsy, suddenly subdued, allows Jim #2 to usher her inside.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               It's weird they have the same name, 
               but that's really no fault of their 
               own.

     As Jim #2 gets into a Ford Taurus, Jim #1 crosses the street 
     to greet Carolyn.

                           JIM #1
               Morning, Carolyn.

                           CAROLYN
                    (overly friendly)
               Good morning, Jim!  I just love your 
               tie!  That color!

                           JIM #1
               And I just love your roses.  How do 
               you get them to flourish like that?

                           CAROLYN
               Well, I'll tell you. Egg shells and 
               Miracle Grow.

     ANGLE on the second floor bay window of the Burnham's house, 
     where Lester stands in a bathrobe, drying his hair as he 
     looks down at them.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Man. I get exhausted just watching 
               her.

     His POV: We can't hear what they're saying, but Carolyn's 
     facial expressions remain overly animated and cheerful, like 
     those of a TV talk show host.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               She wasn't always like this. She 
               used to be happy. We used to be 
               happy...

     Jim #2 pulls the Ford Taurus into the street; Jim #1 waves 
     to Carolyn, jumps inside and they drive off. Carolyn 
     immediately reverts to her previous resolute expression as 
     she continues cutting flowers.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 11
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               But she doesn't have much use for me 
               anymore. About the only thing that 
               gets her excited now is money.

14   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS              14   

     CLOSE on a young woman's hands counting DOLLAR BILLS. PULLING 
     back, we see JANE BURNHAM, seated at a desk in her bedroom, 
     wearing jeans and a tight cotton top with straps.  As she 
     counts, she has the same resolute expression as her mother.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And this is my daughter Jane.  Only 
               child.  She takes after her mother 
               in a lot of ways, although she'd 
               never admit it.

     Having finished counting, JANE paper-clips the money together 
     then types something into a computer.

     CLOSE on the COMPUTER MONITOR:  Personal banking software.

     We see the word DEPOSIT and the amount $38.00 as they're 
     entered, then a new total in the balance column: $2,853.06.

     JANE smiles, pleased.  she stuffs the money into a KNAPSACK 
     hanging on her closet door, then looks at herself in a full- 
     length MIRROR. A beat, she turns sideways and arches her 
     back so her breasts protrude as much as possible She frowns, 
     then turns so she's facing the mirror, and hugs her herself 
     tightly, to enhance the appearance of cleavage.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Janie is a pretty typical teenager. 
               Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I 
               could tell her all that's going to 
               pass.
                    (then)
               But I don't want to lie to her.

     We HEAR a CAR HORN from outside. JANE grabs her KNAPSACK and 
     a too-large flannel shirt from her closet and starts out.

15   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOS                                15   

     A bright blue GARBAGE TRUCK fills the screen, as its 
     MECHANICAL ARM lifts a matching blue city GARBAGE CONTAINER 
     from the curb, emptying its contents into the truck. On the 
     side of the truck:

     CITY of ROCKWELL

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 12
     9-29-00                                                     


     DEPARTMENT of SANITATION

     Let's Recycle!

     In the Burnham's driveway: Carolyn, now dressed for work in 
     a completely different but equally well-coordinated outfit, 
     stands next to a platinum-colored MERCEDES-BENZ ML320, 
     reaching in through the drivers' window to blow the HORN 
     again.

     Her POV: LESTER comes out the front door, dressed IN a 
     business suit and carrying a briefcase, fumbling with his 
     tie.

     Jane is close behind him, buttoning her flannel shirt, her 
     knapsack slung over her shoulder.

     Carolyn frowns at both of them.

                           CAROLYN
               Jane. Honey. Are you trying to look 
               unattractive?

                           JANE
               Yes.

                           CAROLYN
               Well, congratulations.  You've 
               succeeded admirably.

     Lester's briefcase suddenly springs open, his papers and 
     files spilling onto the driveway.  As he drops to his knees 
     to gather everything, Jane sidesteps around him.

                           JANE
               Nice going, Dad.

     LESTER looks UP her sheepishly, then at Carolyn.

     His POV: she looks down at us, slightly contemptuous But 
     also bored, as if she gave up expecting anything more long 
     ago.

                           LESTER
               I keep meaning to get this thing 
               fixed...

     He smiles, trying to lighten the moment, but Carolyn's 
     expression doesn't change. She opens the door and gets into 
     the drivers seat. Jane takes the passenger seat, and Lester 
     climbs into the back. The Mercedes-Benz ML320 starts to slowly 
     back out of the driveway.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 13
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               So that's my family... and this is 
               my life.
                    (laughs)
               You'd think I wouldn't miss it so 
               much...

16   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - A SHORT TIME LATER                 16   

     Carolyn is driving; Jane stares out the window. Lester is 
     asleep in the back seat. Clint Black sings "DESPERADO" on 
     the STEREO.

                           JANE
               Why are we listening to this whiny-
               ass music?

                           CAROLYN
               It's just what was on.

     JANE fiddles the tuner, searching FOR ANOTHER station.

     Something suddenly catches Carolyn's eye:

     Her POV: An ADVERTISEMENT on a BUS STOP BENCH shows a slick-
     looking, silver-haired MAN smiling a toothy smile. It reads:

     Leonard Kane - The Real Estate King - Rockwell's Highest 
     Sales Record Three Years Straight. We recognize him as the 
     man seated next to Carolyn in court during Jane's trial.

     Carolyn glare at the ADVERTISEMENT as she drives past. it 
     obviously bothers her.

                           JANE
               I don't see how you people can listen 
               to that hillbilly crap.  It makes me 
               want to buy a gun and shoot up a 
               Burger King.

                           CAROLYN
               Well, your father was the last one 
               to drive this car.  You know I don't 
               like country music myself.  It's 
               so... common and twangy. I much prefer 
               the old standards. Sinatra, Bobby 
               Darin Doris Day...

     JANE Finally finds a STATION she likes: MOODY ALTERNATIVE 
     ROCK. They drive along without speaking for a moment, then:

                           JANE
               Wake up, Dad, we're here.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 14
     9-29-00                                                     


     No response from Lester.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               Dad, look. It's Garth Brooks, and 
               he's wearing that groovy cowboy hat. 
               Maybe you can get his autograph.

                           CAROLYN
                    (chuckling)
               Jane. Hush.

17   INT. COMMUTER TRAIN - A SHORT TIME LATER                      17   

     LESTER sits IN the crowded TRAIN, his head UP against the 
     window. He's fast asleep.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Both my wife and my daughter think 
               I'm this gigantic loser.

     He has a paper CUP of COFFEE IN one hand, haphazardly holding 
     it against his knee.  Slowly, it tips over, spilling onto 
     his pants leg.  He remains asleep.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               And they're right.  I've lost 
               something very important.  I'm not 
               exactly sure what it is, but I know 
               I didn't always fell this...  sedated.

     Finally, LESTER opens one eye.

     POV: from the front of the PATH train: We're ZOOMING along 
     aboveground, unnaturally FAST heading toward a TUNNEL.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               But you know what?  It's never too 
               late to get it back.

     And we accelerate into the tunnel, and BLACKNESS.

18   INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY                                    18   

     CLOSE on a COMPUTER MONITOR, SCROLLING COPY.  It's MOVING by 
     too quickly for us to read, but we can make out WORDS here 
     and there: marketing... profits... strategy... etc.

     Lester sits at his workstation, in a BEIGE CUBICLE, surrounded 
     by several IDENTICAL BEIGE CUBICLES. He's staring at the 
     monitor and talking on a HEADSET PHONE. The light, friendly 
     tone of his voice is at odds with the beleaguered expression 
     on his face.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 15
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Hello, this is Lester Burnham from 
               Media Monthly magazine calling for 
               Mr.  Keene... actually, I've already 
               left a message, about four messages 
               to be exact... I understand, but I 
               have questions about the new product 
               launch that your press release didn't 
               quite cover...

     BRAD, an affable MAN IN his EARLY thirties, appears behind 
     Lester. Lester is immediately aware of his presence.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I've already given you my number...
                    (sighs)
               555-5419. Yes. Lester Burnham.  Thank 
               you.

     He punches a button on his keyboard, then turns to Brad, 
     smiling perfunctorily.

                           BRAD
               Les. Got a minute?

                           LESTER
               For you, Brad?  I've got five.

                           BRAD
               Good. Why don't we talk in my office?

     He smiles and crosses off.  LESTER watches him go, frowning.

19   INT. BRAD'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER                            19   

     BRAD is seated behind his desk.

                           BRAD
               ...so I'm sure you can understand 
               the need to cut corners around here.

     Lester sits across from him, scowling like a teenager who's 
     been sent to the principal's office.

                           LESTER
               Sure. Times are tight, and you need 
               to free up cash. Gotta spend money 
               to make money.

                           BRAD
               Exactly.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 16
     9-29-00                                                     


     BRAD stands, ready to usher LESTER out, But LESTER remains 
     seated.

                           LESTER
                    (blurts)
               Like when our editorial director 
               used the company MasterCard to pay 
               for a hooker, and then she used the 
               card number to stay at the St. Regis 
               for, what was it, three months?

                           BRAD
                    (startled)
               That's unsubstantiated gossip.

                           LESTER
               That's fifty thousand dollars.  That's 
               somebody's salary. Somebody who's 
               probably gonna get fired because 
               Craig has to pay women to fuck him!

                           BRAD
               Jesus. Calm down. Nobody's getting 
               fired yet.  That's why we're having 
               everyone write a job description, 
               mapping out in detail how they 
               contribute.  That way, management 
               can assess who's valuable and who's--

                           LESTER
               Expendable.

                           BRAD
               It's just business.

                           LESTER
                    (angry)
               I've been writing for this magazine 
               for fourteen years, Brad.  You've 
               been here how long, a month?

                           BRAD
                    (frank)
               I'm, one of the good guys, Les. I 
               trying to level with you. This is 
               your one chance to save your job.

     LESTER leans back IN his chair, incredulous.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 17
     9-29-00                                                     


20   INT. COMMUTER TRAIN - A SHORT TIME LATER                      20   

     Once again, LESTER sits IN the crowded TRAIN, his head UP 
     against the window. But this time, he's not asleep; he glares 
     darkly out at the tunnel walls as they fly by.

21   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - THAT NIGHT                               21   

     The MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 pulls into the driveway, driven By 
     Carolyn. A MOVING VAN is parked in front of the pale blue 
     COLONIAL HOUSE next door. A couple of Movers carry a couch 
     down the driveway toward the house.

     As LESTER and Carolyn get out of the ML320 and head toward 
     their front door:

                           CAROLYN
               There is no decision. Just write the 
               damn thing!

                           LESTER
               You don't think it's weird and kinda 
               fascist?

                           CAROLYN
               possibly. But you don't want to be 
               unemployed.

                           LESTER
               Oh, okay.  Let's all sell our souls 
               to Satan, because it's more convenient 
               that way.

                           CAROLYN
                    (sighs)
               Could you be just a little bit more 
               dramatic, please?

     Carolyn scopes out the MOVING VAN next door.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               Well.  We've finally got new 
               neighbors.  It's about time.  If the 
               Lomans had let me represent them, 
               instead of...
                    (heavy disdain)
               The Real Estate King, that house 
               would have sold within a week, instead 
               of sitting on the market for six 
               months.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 18
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               They were still mad at you for cutting 
               down their sycamore.

                           CAROLYN
               Their sycamore? It was on our 
               property!

22   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - DINING ROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT           22   

     We HEAR John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman's rendition of "YOU 
     ARE TOO BEAUTIFUL" on the STEREO.

     LESTER, Carolyn and JANE are seated at dinner IN the formal 
     dining room. They eat by CANDLELIGHT, and a profusion of RED 
     ROSES spills from a vase at the center of the table. We CIRCLE 
     them slowly, as they eat. Nobody makes eye contact, or even 
     seems aware of anybody else's presence, until...

                           JANE
               Mom, do we always have to listen to 
               this elevator music?

                           CAROLYN
                    (considers)
               No. No, we don't. As soon as you've 
               prepared a nutritious yet flavorful 
               meal that I'm about to eat, you can 
               listen to whatever you like.

     A long beat. LESTER Suddenly turns to Jane.

                           LESTER
               So Janie, how was school?

                           JANE
                    (suspicious)
               It was okay.

                           LESTER
               Just okay?

                           JANE
               No, Dad.  It was spec-tac-ular.  
                    (A beat.)

                           LESTER
               Want to know how things went at my 
               job?

     Now she looks at him as if he's lost his mind.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 19
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               They've hired this efficiency expert.  
               He's really friendly, and I really 
               hate his guts. See, they're going to 
               lay somebody off, but in the interest 
               of being democratic, everybody gets 
               to write a "job description" for 
               him, in the hopes the assholes in 
               management will read it and say, 
               "Whoa, we can't do without this 
               guy..."

     He trails off, obviously waiting FOR a response from Jane.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
                    (finally)
               You couldn't possibly care any less, 
               could you?

     Carolyn is watching This closely.

                           JANE
                    (uncomfortable)
               Dad, what do you expect? You can't 
               all of a sudden be my best friend, 
               just because you've got a problem.

     She gets UP and heads toward the kitchen.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I mean, hello. You've barely even 
               spoken to me for months.

     She's gone.  Lester notices Carolyn looking at him critically.

                           LESTER
               Oh, what, you're mother-of-the-year?  
               You treat her like a employee.

                           CAROLYN
                    (shocked)
               what?!

     He gets UP and starts after Jane.

                           LESTER
               You treat us both like employees.

     Carolyn looks after him, slack-jawed.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 20
     9-29-00                                                     


23   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               23   

     A huge faux industrial KITCHEN, with floor-to-ceiling WHITE 
     CERAMIC TILE, brushed steel appliances and antique hardware 
     and lighting.  This is one of those "back-to-a-simpler-time" 
     designer kitchens that cost a fortune. Jane stands at the 
     sink, rinsing off her plate. Lester enters.

                           LESTER
               Honey, I'm sorry I...

     JANE turns and stares at him, waiting FOR him to finish.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I'm sorry I haven't been more 
               available, I just... I'm...

     He's looking to her for a little help here, but she's too 
     uncomfortable with this sudden intimacy to give him any.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You know,  you don't always have to 
               wait for me to come to you...

                           JANE
               0h, great. So now it's my fault.

24   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               24   

     ON VIDEO: We're looking at Lester and Jane through GREENHOUSE 
     WINDOWS into the kitchen. We can't hear what they're saying, 
     but it's obvious it's not going well. Jane puts her plate in 
     the dishwasher and leaves. We follow her out the door, then 
     the camera JERKS back to Lester calling after her.

     CLOSE on the LENS of a high-tech portable VIDEO CAMERA. as 
     we PULL back, the camera drops down to reveal RICKY FITTS, 
     whom we recognize as the young man in jail at the beginning. 
     His short hair and starched clothes give him a hyper-
     conservative appearance.  We linger on his placid face for a 
     moment, then...

25   INT. BURNHAM - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                           25   

     LESTER stands at the sink, rinsing off his plate, his face 
     dark. His head suddenly jerks up and he looks out the window, 
     as if he realizes he 's being watched.

     His POV:  We're looking at the pint where Ricky was just 
     standing, but he's no longer there.

     LESTER frowns, then turns off the faucet, grabs a towel and 
     dries his hands.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 21
     9-29-00                                                     


     He tosses the towel on the snack bar on his way out, where 
     it lands next to a FRAMED PHOTOGRAPH.

     We ZOOM slowly toward the PHOTOGRAPH: It's of Lester, Carolyn, 
     and a much-younger Jane, taken several years earlier at an 
     amusement park.  It's startling how happy they look.

     We HEAR CHEERING and APPLAUSE.

26   INT. HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUM - NIGHT                            26   

     We're at a high-school BASKETBALL GAME. Teenage boys, mostly 
     black, play a fast and furious game. One team, dressed in 
     light blue and white uniforms, scores a basket. The CROWD 
     goes wild.

     Seated IN the bleachers, next to the high SCHOOL BAND, is a 
     group of about twenty teenage girls, dressed in short light 
     blue and white uniforms that manage to be both revealing and 
     chaste. Among them, Jane sits next to ANGELA HAYES, whom we 
     recognize from the witness stand at the beginning. Jane stands 
     and scans the bleachers.

                           ANGELA
               Who are you looking for?

                           JANE
               My parents are coming tonight.  
               They're trying to, you know, take an 
               active interest in me.

                           ANGELA
               Gross. I hate it when my mom does 
               that.

                           JANE
               They're such assholes. Why can't 
               they just have their own lives?

27   INT. MERCEDES - BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       27   

     Carolyn drives. LESTER is slumped IN the passenger seat.

                           LESTER
               What makes you so sure she wants us 
               to be there? Did she ask us to come?

                           CAROLYN
               Of course not.  She doesn't want us 
               to know how important this is to 
               her.  But she's been practicing her 
               steps for weeks.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 22
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Well, I bet you money she's going to 
               resent this.  And I'm missing the 
               James Bond marathon on TNT.

                           CAROLYN
               Lester, this is important.  I'm 
               sensing a real distance growing 
               between you and Jane.

                           LESTER
               Growing?  She hates me.

                           CAROLYN
               She's just willful.

                           LESTER
               She hates you too.

     Carolyn stares at him, unsure of how to respond.

28   INT. HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUM - LATER                            28   

     The uniformed girls we saw earlier are now standing IN 
     formation on the gymnasium floor.

                           ANNOUNCER
                    (over P.A.)
               And now, for your half-time 
               entertainment, Rockwell High's award-
               winning Dancing Pantherettes!

     IN the crowded stands, LESTER and Carolyn search FOR seats.

                           LESTER
               We can leave right after this, right?

     The HIGH SCHOOL BAND plays "TOP of THE WORLD." On the gym 
     floor, the girls perform synchronized dance steps, smiling 
     energetically. They're well-rehearsed, but too young to carry 
     off the ambitious Vegas routine they're attempting.

     LESTER, watching from the stands, picks out his daughter.

     His POV: JANE performs well, concentrating hard. Dancing 
     next to her is Angela; she moves awkwardly, grace obviously 
     not being her strong point. Suddenly she looks right us and 
     smiles, a lazy, insolent smile.

     LESTER leans forward IN his seat.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 23
     9-29-00                                                     


     His POV: We're focused on Angela now.  Everything starts to 
     SLOW DOWN, almost imperceptibly... the MUSIC acquires an 
     eerie ECHO... and she keeps sneaking knowing looks at us...

     We ZOOM slowly toward LESTER as He watches, transfixed.

     His POV:  The light on Angela is brighter than on the others, 
     somehow, and her awkwardness gives way to a fluid grace.  
     "TOP of THE WORLD" FADES into dreamy, hypnotic TRIPHOP MUSIC.  
     The light on Angela grows even stronger, and the other girls 
     around her DISAPPEAR entirely...

     LESTER is spellbound.

     His POV: ANGELA looks directly at us Now, Dancing ONLY FOR 
     Lester. Her movements take on a blatantly erotic edge as the 
     MUSIC increases in intensity. She starts to seductively unzip 
     her uniform, teasing us with an expression that's both 
     innocent and knowing, then... she pulls her uniform OPEN and 
     a profusion of RED ROSES spills forth... and we SMASH CUT 
     TO:

29   INT. HIGH SCHOOL  - CONTINUOUS                                29   

     ANGELA, fully clothed, is Once again surrounded By the other 
     girls. The HIGH SCHOOL BAND plays its last note, the Dancing 
     Pantherettes strike their final showgirl pose, and the 
     audience bursts into APPLAUSE.

     Carolyn claps along with the rest of the audience. LESTER 
     just sits there, unable to take his eyes off Angela.

30   EXT. HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASIUM - LATER                            30   

     The game is over. LESTER and Carolyn stand near the main 
     door, as people trickle out of the gym.

                           CAROLYN
                    (after a beat)
               Okay, I can't wait any longer.  I've 
               got a killer day tomorrow -

                           LESTER
                    (emphatic)
               We don't leave without seeing her.

     Carolyn gives him an odd look.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Hey, this was your idea.
                    (then calls out)
               Janie!

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 24
     9-29-00                                                     


     JANE and ANGELA, IN street clothes, have just come out of 
     the gym.  Jane rolls her eyes and crosses reluctantly toward 
     her parents, followed by Angela.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You were really great, honey.  
               Congratulations.

                           JANE
               I didn't win anything

                           LESTER
                    (to Angela)
               Hi, I'm Lester.  Jane's dad.

                           ANGELA
               Oh. Hi.

     An awkward beat.

                           JANE
               This is my friend Angela Hayes.

                           LESTER
               Okay, good to meet you. You were 
               also good, tonight. Very...  precise.

                           ANGELA
                    (warming)
               Thanks.

                           CAROLYN
                    (hugs Jane)
               Honey, I'm proud of you. I watched 
               you very closely, and you didn't 
               screw up once.
                    (then, to Lester)
               Okay, we have to go.

     She starts toward the parking lot. LESTER stays behind.

                           LESTER
               What are you girls doing now?

                           JANE
               Dad.

                           ANGELA
               We're going out for pizza.

                           LESTER
               Well, can we give you a lift?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 25
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
               Thanks, but I have a car.

                           LESTER
               That's great!  Uh, Janie's hoping to 
               get a car soon, aren't you honey?

                           JANE
                    (you freak)
               Dad.  Mom's waiting for you , and 
               she look like she's about to start 
               chewing her hair.

                           LESTER
               Well, it's great to meet you, Angela.  
               Any, uh, friend of Janie's is a friend 
               of mine.

     ANGELA smiles at him, fully aware of the powers she has over 
     him. He is mesmerized; grateful, even.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               So... I guess I'll be seeing you 
               around.  I guess.

                           ANGELA
               LESTER waves awkwardly as He crosses 
               off.

                           JANE
               Could he be any more pathetic?

                           ANGELA
               I think it's sweet.
                    (then)
               And I think he and your mother have 
               not had sex for a long time.

31   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - A FEW HOURS LATER       31   

     CLOSE on a solitary red ROSE PETAL as it falls slowly and 
     silently through the air1 like a feather.

     We're in Lester and Carolyn's room, looking down on their 
     bed from OVERHEAD. Even in sleep, Carolyn still looks 
     determined.

     Lester, however, is wide awake and stares up at us.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               It's the weirdest thing.

     The ROSE PETAL drifts into view, landing on his pillow.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 26
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I feel like I've been in a coma for 
               about twenty years, and I'm just now 
               waking up.

     More ROSE PETALS fall onto the bed.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I feel younger... lighter...

     He smiles UP at...

     His POV: ANGELA, naked, FLOATS directly above us as if IN 
     water, kicking lazily as a deluge of ROSE PETALS falls around 
     her.  Her hair fans out around her head and GLOWS with a 
     subtle, burnished light.  She looks down at us with a smile 
     that is all things: compassion... invitation... lust...

     LESTER smiles back and LAUGHS, as ROSE PETALS cover his face.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Spec-tac-ular.

32   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - CONTINUOUS                            32   

     A WHITE BMW 328si CONVERTIBLE winds its way down the street 
     and pulls close to, but not into, the Burnham's driveway.

33   INT. ANGELA'S BMW - CONTINUOUS                                33   

     ANGELA is driving, JANE is IN the passenger seat. both girls 
     are stoned and LAUGH hysterically. Gradually, their LAUGHTER 
     dies down. Iggy Pop sings "CANDY" on the RADIO.

                           JANE
               I'm sorry my dad was so weird tonight.

                           ANGELA
               It's okay. I'm used to guys drooling 
               over me.
                    (lights a cigarette)
               It started when I was about twelve. 
               I'd go out to dinner with my parents. 
               Every Thursday night, Red Lobster. 
               And every guy there would stare at 
               me when I walked in.  And I knew 
               what they were thinking.  Just like 
               I knew guys at school thought about 
               me when they jerked off...

                           JANE
               Vomit.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 27
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
               No  I liked it. And I still like it. 
               If people I don't even know look at 
               me and want to fuck me, it means I 
               really have a shot at being a model.  
               Which is great, because there's one 
               thing worse in life than being 
               ordinary.

     An awkward beat.  JANE stares at the floor.

                           JANE
               I really think it'll happen for you.

                           ANGELA
               Oh, I know.  Because everything that 
               was meant to happen, does.  
               Eventually.

                           (THEN)
               Maybe I should come in a say good 
               night to your dad.

     The two girls break into a fresh round of stoned LAUGHTER.

34   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               34   

     On VIDEO: JANE gets out of the CAR, still LAUGHING, and waves 
     as Angela pulls away. We ZOOM in on Jane as she walks toward 
     the house. She turns suddenly, sensing our presence, and 
     looks directly at us.

     Her POV: We're looking at the pale blue COLONIAL HOUSE next 
     door where the moving van was parked earlier. The front porch 
     is shrouded in darkness... then a PORCH LIGHT abruptly reveals 
     Ricky, perched on a white-washed Adirondack chair, having 
     just turned on the overhead light. As usual, he wears very 
     conservative clothes. There is a BEEPER attached to his belt, 
     and his VIDEO CAMERA dangles loosely around his neck.

     Irritated, JANE stares at him, hard.

                           JANE
               Asshole.

     He looks back at her curiously, then raises his VIDEO camera 
     and starts to videotape her.

     His POV, on VIDEO: JANE, angry and self-conscious, turns and 
     walks quickly toward her house, flipping us off as she goes.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 28
     9-29-00                                                     


35   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FOYER - CONTINUOUS                       35   

     JANE enters, closes and locks the door, quickly turns off 
     the LIGHT that's been left on for her, then peeks through a 
     window..

     Her POV: The Fitts' porch light is still on, but there's no 
     sign of Ricky.

     Jane starts quietly up the stairs. Then, just as she's almost 
     out of sight, she smiles, a schoolgirl thrilled to discover 
     she's the object of a schoolboy's crush.

     FADE to BLACK.

     FADE IN

36   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE  - JANE'S BEDROOM - THE NEXT MORNING       36   

     CLOSE on an ADDRESS BOOK.  A man's hand flips to the H page 
     and then his finger runs down the names on it, stopping at 
     the name Angela Hayes...

     Lester, already dressed for work, sits at Jane's desk, going 
     through her address book.  We HEAR the SHOWER running in the 
     adjacent bathroom, and Jane SINGING "CANDY" at the top of 
     her lungs.  Lester grabs her phone and dials.

                           JANE (O.S.)
               I'VE HAD A HOLE... IN MY HEART... 
               FOR SO LONG...

     CLOSE on LESTER, with the receiver to his ear, nervous.

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
                    (over phone line)
               Hello? Hello?

     LESTER is frozen, unable to speak. Suddenly, the shower is 
     turned off in the next room, and Jane's singing stops. Lester 
     hangs up and exits quickly. A moment, then the PHONE RINGS.

     Jane emerges from the bathroom, dripping wet, and answers 
     it.

                           JANE
               Hello?

37   INT. HAYES HOUSE - ANGELA' S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS             37   

     ANGELA is sprawled across her bed, on the phone. the walls 
     of her room are covered with pictures of SUPERMODELS.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 29
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
               Why'd you call me?

     Intercut with Jane in her bedroom:

                           JANE
               I didn't.

                           ANGELA
               Well, my phone just rung and I 
               answered it and somebody hung up and 
               then I star sixty-nined and it called 
               you back.

                           JANE
               I was in the shower.

     Then JANE notices her ADDRESS book open to the H page.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               Oh, gross

38   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               38   

     ON VIDEO: We're across from Jane's WINDOW, peering in.  Jane 
     picks up the address book, frowning.  She speaks into the 
     one, but we can't hear her.

                           WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                    (sing song)
               Rick-y! Break-fast!

39   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS               39   

     Ricky, dressed for school, stands at his open window, 
     videotaping.  He lowers his CAMERA, but his eyes remain locked 
     on Jane across the way.

                           RICKY
               Be right there.

40   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER                    40   

     BARBARA FITTS stands at the stove, frying bacon. She's in 
     her fifties; pretty, in a slightly childish way. She flips 
     the bacon strips mechanically, her eyes focused elsewhere. 
     Her husband, COLONEL FRANK FITTS (whom we recognize from his 
     run-in with Detective Fleishman at the beginning), sits at a 
     dinette reading The Wall Street 'Journal. They're each off 
     in their own little world, which they vastly prefer to this 
     one, then:

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 30
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
                    (entering)
               Mom.

     Startled, BARBARA turns to him.

                           BARBARA
               Hello.

                           RICKY
               I don't eat bacon, remember?

                           BARBARA
                    (unnerved)
               I must have forgotten. I'm sorry.

     RICKY serves himself scrambled eggs from ANOTHER pan, then 
     joins his father at the table.

                           RICKY
               What's new in the world, Dad?

                           COLONEL
               This country is going straight to 
               hell.

                           RICKY
               So nothing's changed.

     A DOORBELL rings.  the COLONEL and BARBARA look at each other, 
     alarmed.

                           COLONEL
               Are you expecting anyone?

                           BARBARA
               No.
                    (things)
               No.

     The COLONEL rises and heads toward the living ROOM, a little 
     puffed up.  Curious, Ricky follows.  Barbara just stands 
     there, frightened.

41   INT. FITTS HOUSE - FOYER - CONTINUOUS                         41   

     The COLONEL opens the front door to reveal the two JIMS.

                           JIM #1
               Hi.

                           JIM #2
               Welcome to the neighborhood.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 31
     9-29-00                                                     


     Jim #1 holds out a basket filled with flowers, vegetables 
     and a small white cardboard box tied with raffia.

                           JIM #1
               Just a little something from our 
               garden.

     RICKY watches from the back of the foyer.

                           JIM #2
               Except for the pasta, we got that at 
               Dean and Deluca.

                           JIM #1
               It's unbelievably fresh. You just 
               barely drop it in the water and it's 
               done.

     The COLONEL stares at them, suspicious.

                           JIM #1 (CONT'D)
                    (offers his hand)
               I'm Jim Olsen. I live across the 
               street. Welcome to the neighborhood.

                           COLONEL
                    (shakes)
               Colonel Frank Fits, U.S. Marine Corps.

                           JIM #1
               Nice to meet you.  And this is my 
               partner...

                           JIM #2
                    (offers his hand)
               Jim Boyd, but my friends call me 
               J.B.

                           COLONEL
               Let's cut to the chase, okay?  What 
               are you guys selling?

     A beat.

                           JIM #2
               Nothing.  We just wanted to say hi 
               to our new neighbors -

                           COLONEL
               Yeah, yeah, yeah. You said you're 
               partners. So what's your business?

     A beat. the Jims look at each other, then back at the Colonel.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 32
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JIM #1
               Well, he's an entertainment lawyer.

                           JIM #2
               And he's an anesthesiologist.

     They're trying not to laugh. The Colonel looks at them, 
     confused, then it dawns on him.

42   INT. COLONEL'S FORD EXPLORER - LATER                          42   

     The COLONEL drives, staring darkly at the road ahead. IN the 
     passenger seat, Ricky is using a CALCULATOR and jotting 
     numbers down in a NOTEBOOK.

                           COLONEL
                    (suddenly)
               How come these faggots always have 
               to rub it in your face? How can they 
               be so shameless?

                           RICKY
               That's the whole thing, Dad. They 
               don't feel like it's anything to be 
               ashamed of.

     The COLONEL looks at RICKY sharply.

                           COLONEL
               Well, it is.

     A beat, as RICKY continues his calculations, before He 
     realizes a response is expected from him.  Then:

                           RICKY
               You're right.

     The Colonel's eyes flash angrily.

                           COLONEL
               Don't placate me like I'm your mother, 
               boy.

     RICKY sighs, then looks at his father and speaks with sincere 
     hatred.

                           RICKY
               Forgive me sir, for speaking so 
               bluntly, but those fags make me want 
               to puke my fucking guts out.

     The COLONEL is taken aback, But quickly covers.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 33
     9-29-00                                                     


                           COLONEL
               Me too, son. Me too.

     Case closed, RICKY goes back to his calculations.

     CLOSE on the pencil in his hands... he's totaling two columns 
     of NUMBERS. Under the column "Income" he writes in swift, 
     bold strokes: $24,950.00.

43   EXT. HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS - A FEW MINUTES LATER                 43   

     JANE and ANGELA are seated with two other TEENAGE GIRLS.

     They're all smoking.

                           ANGELA
               I'm serious, he just yanked it out 
               and showed it to me. You know, like 
               the President did to that woman.

                           TEENAGE GIRL #1
               Gross

                           ANGELA
               It wasn't gross. It was kind of cool.

                           TEENAGE GIRL #1
               So did you do it with him?

                           ANGELA
               Of course I did.  He is a really 
               well-known photographer?  He shoots 
               for Elle on like, a regular basis?  
               It would have been so majorly stupid 
               of me to turn him down.

                           TEENAGE GIRL #2
               You are a total prostitute.

                           ANGELA
               Hey.  That's how things really are.  
               You just don't know, because you're 
               this pampered little suburban chick.

                           TEENAGE GIRL #2
               So are you.  You've only been in 
               Seventeen once, and you looked fat, 
               so stop acting like you're goddamn 
               Christy Turlington.

     The two TEENAGE girls move away from JANE and Angela.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 34
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
                    (calling off)
               Cunt!
                    (then)
               I am so sick of people taking their 
               insecurities out on me.

     The Colonel's Ford Explorer pulls up, and Ricky gets out. 
     The creases on his trousers are sharp enough to cut glass.

                           JANE
               Oh my God. That's the pervert who 
               filmed me last night.

                           ANGELA
               Him? No way. Jane, he is a total 
               lunatic.

                           JANE
               You know him?

                           ANGELA
               He was in my earth science class in 
               eighth grade, and he always said the 
               creepiest things, and then one day, 
               he was just, like, gone. And then 
               Connie Cardullo told me he his parents 
               had to put him in a mental 
               institution.

                           JANE
               Why? What did he do?

                           ANGELA
               What do you mean?

                           JANE
               Well, they can't put you away just 
               for saying creepy things.

     ANGELA stares at JANE, then her mouth widens into a smile.

                           ANGELA
               You total slut.  You've got a crush 
               on him.

                           JANE
               What? Please.

                           ANGELA
               You were defending him!  You love 
               him.  You want to have, like, ten 
               thousand of his babies.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 35
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               Shut up.

     JANE Suddenly finds RICKY standing IN front of her, looking 
     at her intensely.

                           RICKY
               Hi. My name's Ricky. I just moved 
               next door to you.

                           JANE
               Uh, yeah. I know. I kinda remember 
               this really creepy incident when you 
               were filming me last night?

                           RICKY
               I didn't mean to scare you. I just 
               think you're interesting.

     ANGELA shoots a wide-eyed look at JANE, who ignores it.

                           JANE
               Thanks, but I really don't need to 
               have some psycho obsessing about me 
               right now.

                           RICKY
               I'm not obsessing. I'm just curious.

     He looks at her intently, his eyes searching hers. JANE is 
     unnerved and has to look away. Ricky smiles and walks off.

                           ANGELA
               What a freak. And why does he dress 
               like a Bible salesman?

                           JANE
               He's like, so confident.  That can't 
               be real.

                           ANGELA
               I don't believe him.  He didn't even 
               like, look at me once.

44   EXT. SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY                              44   

     CLOSE on a wooden SIGN that reads:

     OPEN HOUSE TODAY

     BURNHAM & ASSOCIATES REALTY

     555-1618

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 36
     9-29-00                                                     


     Carolyn BURNHAM 

     The SIGN is planted IN front of a RUN-down HOME in a run-
     down middle-class neighborhood.  The Mercedes-Benz ML320 is 
     parked in front of the house.  Carolyn, wearing a T-shirt 
     and jeans, unloads a box filled with cleaning supplies, a 
     BOOMBOX and a garment bag from the back.

     Something across the street catches her eye.

     Her POV: IN front of a DIFFERENT HOUSE w ith much More curb 
     appeal is another SIGN, with a picture of the same silver- 
     haired MAN we saw on the bus stop bench earlier. It reads:

     FOR SALE

     Call Leonard Kane - the Real Estate King

     555-1957

     Carolyn frowns and slams the back of the MERCEDES shut, a 
     little harder than necessary.

45   INT. SALE HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER                 45   

     Carolyn enters, hangs her garment bag IN the hall closet and 
     inspects the empty living room. The cathedral ceiling is 
     painted an alarming burnt orange, and the native stone 
     fireplace has shed a couple of stones onto the floor, which 
     she quickly picks up and wedges back into the fireplace.

                           CAROLYN
                    (quietly)
               I will sell this house today.

     She plugs in the BOOMBOX, presses a button and we HEAR Tony 
     Bennett singing "WITH PLENTY of MONEY AND YOU," which plays 
     throughout the following

     MONTAGE

     We see Carolyn, working with fierce concentration as she:

     Doggedly scrubs countertops in the kitchen; Perches on a 
     stepladder to dust a cheap-looking white ceiling fan in the 
     mater bedroom; Cleans glass doors that overlook the patio 
     and pool; Skims leaves off the surface of the pool; Sweeps 
     the patio with a broom; And vacuums a dirty carpet that will 
     never be clean.

     Throughout all this, she keeps repeating to herself:

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 37
     9-29-00                                                     


                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               I will sell this house today.  I 
               will sell this house today.  I will 
               sell this house today...

     She says This as if she believes she can actually will This 
     house into being something more than the dump it is.

46   INT. SALE HOUSE - BATHROOM - LATER                            46   

     Carolyn stands in front of the mirror, Now dressed in a 
     stylish but not-too-formal business suit.  She finishes 
     applying lipstick, then stares at her reflection, critically.

                           CAROLYN
               I will sell this house today.

     She says this as if it were a threat, then turns to go. on 
     her way out, she notices a smudge on the glass shower door 
     and pulls off a piece of toilet paper to clean it.

47   EXT. SALE HOUSE - FRONT YARD - LATER                          47   

     CLOSE on the front door, as it opens to reveal Carolyn, 
     greeting us with her most winning smile - the smile she thinks 
     could sell ice to an Eskimo.

                           CAROLYN
               Welcome. I'm Carolyn Burnham!

     MUSIC ENDS.

48   INT. SALE HOUSE - FOYER - CONTINUOUS                          48   

     Smiling, Carolyn leads a MAN and WOMAN into the living room.

     They're thirtyish, and they've seen a lot of houses today.

                           MAN
                    (looking up)
               How high is that ceiling?

                           CAROLYN
               Over twenty feet.

                           WOMAN
               That color is hideous.

                           CAROLYN
               a simple cream would really lighten 
               things up.  You could even put in a 
               skylight.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 38
     9-29-00                                                     


     The WOMAN wrinkles her face, skeptical.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               Wait 'til you see the kitchen.

49   INT. SALE HOUSE - KITCHEN - LATER                             49   

     Carolyn enters, still Smiling, followed By a DIFFERENT COUPLE 
     in their fifties.

                           CAROLYN
               As you can see, it's been completely 
               remodeled.

                           MAN
                    (opening cabinet)
               These have just been refaced. no new 
               construction.

                           WOMAN
                    (re: faucet)
               What is this, gold?

                           CAROLYN
               No, it's solid brass.

                           WOMAN
               Kinda gaudy, isn't it?

50   INT. SALE HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - LATER                      50   

     Carolyn stands with a different COUPLE: African American, 
     late twenties. The woman is pregnant.

                           CAROLYN
               ...and you'll be surprised how much 
               a ceiling fan can cut down on your 
               energy costs.

                           MAN
               I got a cousin, he was a ballplayer. 
               Ceiling fan fell on him in a bar and 
               severed a tendon in his shoulder. 
               Never fully regained use of that 
               arm. Ruined his career.

     Carolyn just stares at him, still smiling.

51   EXT. SALE HOUSE - BACK YARD - LATER                           51   

     Carolyn stands By the pool next to two thirtyish WOMEN with 
     identical haircuts.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 39
     9-29-00                                                     


                           WOMAN
               The ad said this pool was "lagoon-
               like." But there's nothing "lagoon-
               like" about it.  Except for maybe 
               the bugs.
                    (slaps her arm)
               There's not even any plants out here.

                           CAROLYN
               I have an excellent landscape
               architect -

                           WOMAN
               I mean, I think "lagoon," and I think 
               waterfall, I think tropical.  This 
               is just a cement hole.

     A beat.

                           CAROLYN
               There are some tiki torches in the 
               garage.

     The Women stare at her; she just keeps smiling.

52   INT. SALE HOUSE - SUN ROOM - MOMENTS LATER                    52   

     Carolyn enters, alone. She's furious, much more furious than 
     she should be. She locks the sliding glass door and starts 
     to pull the vertical blinds shut, then stops. Standing very 
     still, with the blinds casting shadows across her face, she 
     starts to cry: brief, staccato SOBS that seemingly escape 
     against her will. Suddenly she SLAPS herself, hard.

                           CAROLYN
               Stop it.

     But the Tears continue. she SLAPS herself again.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               Weak. Baby. Shut up. Shut up!

     She SLAPS herself repeatedly until she stops crying. she 
     stands. there, taking deep, even breaths until she has 
     everything under control, then she finishes pulling the blinds 
     shut, once again all business. She walks out calmly, leaving 
     us alone in the dark, empty room.

53   INT. HOTEL BALLROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT                        53   

     We HEAR a jazzy rendition of "DESAFINADO" under the 
     cacophonous and oddly comforting DIN of a room full of people 
     all talking at once.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 40
     9-29-00                                                     


     SIGN NEAR THE DOOR READS:

     GREATER ROCKWELL REALTOR RESOURCES GROUP

     Well-dressed professionals stand in clumps, chatting.

     Catering waiters serve hors d'eouvres.  We discover Lester 
     and Carolyn, with cocktails, MOVING through the crowd.

                           CAROLYN
               Lester, listen to me.  This is an 
               important business function.  Now, 
               as you know, my business is selling 
               an image.  And part of my job is to 
               live that image -

                           LESTER
                    (in unison with her; 
                    he's heard this before)
               is to live that image -
                    (then)
               Just say whatever you want to say, 
               okay?  Spare me the propaganda.

                           CAROLYN
                    (sighs)
               Will you please do me a favor and 
               act happy tonight?

                           LESTER
                    (grins stupidly)
               I am happy, honey.

     Carolyn's jaw tightens, then:

                           CAROLYN
                    (spots someone)
               Leonard!

     She drags LESTER toward a distinguished silver-haired MAN 
     and his much younger WIFE. We recognize the Man as LEONARD 
     KANE The Real Estate King.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
                    (shakes Leonard's 
                    hand)
               It's good to see you again.

                           LEONARD
                    (friendly)
               It's good to see you too, Catherine.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 41
     9-29-00                                                     


                           CAROLYN
               Carolyn.

                           LEONARD
               Carolyn! Of course.  How are you?

                           CAROLYN
               Very well, thank you.
                    (to his wife)
               Hello, Christy.

                           CHRISTY
               Hello

                           CAROLYN
               This is my husband, Lester -

                           LEONARD
                    (shakes Lester's Hand)
               It's a pleasure.

                           LESTER
               We've actually met. At this same 
               thing last year?  Wait - maybe it 
               was that Christmas thing at the 
               Sheraton.

                           LEONARD
               Oh, yes.

                           LESTER
                    (friendly)
               It's okay.  I wouldn't remember me 
               either.

     He LAUGHS. a little too loudly. Carolyn quickly joins in.

                           CAROLYN
                    (forced gaiety)
               Honey. Don't be weird.

     She smiles her winning smile at him. He knows This persona 
     well, only it's never pissed him off as much as it does right 
     now.

                           LESTER
               All right, honey. I won't be weird.

     He moves in Suddenly, his face CLOSE to hers.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I'll be whatever you want me to be.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 42
     9-29-00                                                     


     And He kisses her - a soft, warm kiss that speaks unmistakably 
     of sex - then turns to the others and grins.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               We have a very healthy relationship.

     Carolyn's smile is frozen on her face, and we can see just 
     about every vein in her neck.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Well.  I don't know about you, but I 
               need another drink.

     He crosses off. Carolyn, Leonard and Christy watch him go.

54   INT. HOTEL BALLROOM - MOMENTS LATER                           54   

     LESTER stands at the bar.  the bartender pours him a scotch.

                           LESTER
               Whoa. Put a little more in there, 
               cowboy.

     The bartender complies.  LESTER takes his drink and turns to 
     face the center of the room.

     His POV: Carolyn is talking to Leonard and Christy.  She's 
     on: smiling, animated, LAUGHING too loud at their jokes.

     Lester smiles and shakes his head. Ricky approaches him, 
     wearing a waiter's uniform, carrying a tray of empty glasses.

                           RICKY
               Excuse me - don't you live on Robin 
               Hood Trail? The house with the red 
               door?

                           LESTER
                    (suspicious)
               Yeah.

                           RICKY
               I'm Ricky Fitts. I just moved into 
               the house next to you.

                           LESTER
               Oh. Hi, Ricky Fitts. I'm Lester 
               Burnham.

                           RICKY
               Hi, Lester Burnham.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 43
     9-29-00                                                     


     A beat. LESTER looks away, scans the crowd, then downs the 
     rest of his drink in one gulp. Ricky just stands there, 
     watching him. Finally Lester turns back to Ricky: what does 
     this kid want?

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Hey, do you party?

                           LESTER
               I'm sorry?

                           RICKY
               Do you get high?

     Lester's surprised, but instantly intrigued.

55   INT. HOTEL BALLROOM - MOMENTS LATER                           55   

     Carolyn and Leonard are deep in conversation. Christy has 
     wandered off.  Carolyn is nervous; Leonard seems amused.

                           CAROLYN
               I probably wouldn't even tell you 
               this if I weren't a little tipsy, 
               but... I am in complete awe of you.  
               Your firm is, hands down, the Rolls 
               Royce of local Real Estate firms, 
               and, well, your personal sales record 
               is, is, is very intimidating.  I'd 
               love to sit down with you, just to 
               pick your brain, if you'd ever be 
               willing.  I suppose, technically, 
               I'm the competition, but... I mean, 
               I don't flatter myself that I'm even 
               in the same league as you...

                           LEONARD
               I'd love to.

                           CAROLYN
                    (shocked)
               Really?

                           LEONARD
               Absolutely. Call my secretary and 
               have her schedule a lunch.

                           CAROLYN
               I'll do that. Thank you.

     She smiles at him, and He smiles back. This situation is 
     loaded and they both know it.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 44
     9-29-00                                                     


56   EXT. HOTEL - LATER                                            56   

     RICKY and LESTER stand next to a dumpster behind the service 
     entrance to the hotel, smoking a JOINT.

                           LESTER
               What about... did you ever see that 
               one movie, with the body walking 
               around holding its own head? And 
               then the head went down on that babe?

                           RICKY
               Re-Animator. It was okay.

     Suddenly, the service entrance opens, and a serious YOUNG 
     MAN in a cheap suit peers out at them. Ricky hides the joint.

                           MAN
                    (to Ricky)
               Look.  I'm not paying you to...
                    (eyes Lester, 
                    suspiciously)
               ...do whatever it is you're doing 
               out here.

                           RICKY
               Fine. Don't pay me.

                           MAN
               Excuse me?

                           RICKY
               I quit.  So you don't have to pay 
               me.  Now, leave me alone.

     A beat.

                           MAN
               Asshole.

     He goes back inside. LESTER looks at RICKY, who shrugs as He 
     stubs out the joint.

                           LESTER
               I think you just became my personal 
               hero.
                    (then)
               Doesn't that make you nervous, just 
               quitting your job like that?  Well, 
               I guess when you're all of, what? 
               Sixteen?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 45
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               Nineteen.
                    (off Lester's look)
               I was held back a few years in school. 
                    (then)
               I just do these gigs every now and 
               then as a cover. I have other sources 
               of income. But my dad interferes a 
               lot less in my life when I pretend 
               to be an upstanding young citizen 
               with a respectable job.

                           CAROLYN (O.S.)
               Lester?

     Carolyn is standing in the open service entrance, staring at 
     Lester and Ricky curiously.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               What are you doing?

                           LESTER
               Carolyn, this is Ricky Fitts.

                           RICKY
               Hi, I just moved next door to you.  
               I also go to school with your 
               daughter.

                           LESTER
               With Jane?  Really?

                           RICKY
               Yeah. Jane.

                           CAROLYN
               Hi
                    (then to Lester)
               I'm ready to leave.  I'll meet you 
               out front.

     And she goes back inside.

                           LESTER
               Uh-oh. I'm in trouble. Well, nice to 
               meet you, Ricky. Thanks for the, uh, 
               thing.

                           RICKY
               Any time.

     LESTER goes inside.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 46
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY (CONT'D)
                    (calls after him)
               If you want any more, you know where 
               I live.

57   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT           57   

     JANE and ANGELA are watching TV. we HEAR the back door open.

                           JANE
               Oh, God. They're home. Quick, let's 
               go up to my room.

     JANE switches off the TV and starts UP the stairs.

                           ANGELA
               I should say hi to your dad.
                    (off Jane's look)
               I don't want to be rude.

     She starts toward the kitchen. JANE comes back down the 
     stairs. She doesn't like this.

58   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                     58   

     LESTER enters and opens the refrigerator, surveying the 
     choices inside.

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
               Nice suit.

     He turns, and is instantly transfixed by:

     His POV: ANGELA leans against the counter, twirling her hair.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               You're looking good, Mr. Burnham.
                    (off his look)
               You look all relaxed.

     She starts toward him,

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               Last time I saw you, you looked kind 
               of wound up.
                    (spots something)
               Oo, is that root beer?

     She reaches inside the refrigerator to grab a bottle. as she 
     does, she moves to place her other hand casually on Lester's 
     shoulder. He sees it coming. Everything SLOWS DOWN, and all 
     sound FADES...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 47
     9-29-00                                                     


     EXTREME CLOSE UP on her hand as it briefly touches his 
     shoulder in SLOW MOTION. He HEAR only the amplified BRUSH of 
     her fingers against the fabric of his suit, and its unnatural, 
     hollow ECHO...

     back in Real TIME: she grabs the root beer and looks UP at 
     him; smiling.

     CLOSE on LESTER: his eyes narrow slightly, then:

     He takes the root beer from ANGELA and puts it on the counter. 
     Then he cups her face in his hands and kisses her roughly. 
     She seems shocked, but doesn't resist as he pulls her toward 
     him with surprising strength.

     He breaks the kiss, looking at her in awe, then He reaches 
     UP and touches his lips. His eyes widen as he pulls a solitary

     ROSE PETAL from his mouth right before we SMASH CUT TO:

59   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                     59   

     ANGELA is back against the counter, drinking the root beer.

     Lester stands by the refrigerator, gazing at her, still lost 
     in his fantasy.

                           ANGELA
               I love root beer, don't you?

     JANE watches from the doorway to the FAMILY ROOM, staring at 
     her father and feeling incredibly awkward in her own home.

     Carolyn enter from the dining room. Lester snaps out of it 
     and grabs a root beer from the refrigerator.

                           JANE
               Mom, you remember Angela.

                           CAROLYN
                    (her sales smile)
               Yes, of course!

                           JANE
               I forgot to tell you, she's spending 
               the night.  It that okay?

                           LESTER
               Sure!

     He takes a sip of his root beer, But it goes down the wrong 
     way and he starts COUGHING violently.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 48
     9-29-00                                                     


60   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT        60   

     ANGELA lays on the bed, in her bra and panties, flipping 
     through a fashion magazine. Jane, in an oversized T shirt, 
     plays a video game on her computer.

                           JANE
               I'm sorry about my dad.

                           ANGELA
               Don't be. I think it's funny.

                           JANE
               Yeah, to you, he's just another guy 
               who wants to jump your bones.  But 
               to me... he's just too embarrassing 
               to live.

                           ANGELA
               Your mom's the one who's embarrassing. 
               What a phony.

     JANE glances at ANGELA, irritated.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               But your dad is actually kind of 
               cute.

                           JANE
               Shut up.

     Lester, still in his suit, stands outside Jane's room, his 
     ear up against the door.  He can't believe what he's hearing.

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
               He is.  If he just worked out a 
               little, he'd be hot.

                           JANE (O.S.)
               Shut up.

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
               Oh, come on.  Haven't you ever sneaked 
               a peek at him in his underwear?

61   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS                 61   

                           ANGELA
               I bet he's got a big dick.

                           JANE
               You are so grossing me out.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 49
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
                    (really enjoying this)
               If he built up his chest and arms, 
               I'd totally fuck him.

     JANE covers her ears and starts singing to drown her out.

62   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS                     62   

     Lester, still listening, looks like he's about to implode.

                           ANGELA (O.S.)
                    (laughs)
               I would!  I would suck your dad's 
               big fat dick, and then I would fuck 
               him 'til his eyes rolled back in his 
               head!
                    (then)
               What was that noise? Jane.

     Jane's SINGING stops.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I swear I heard something.

     Panicked, LESTER scurries down the hall.

63   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS              63   

                           JANE
               Yeah, it was the sound of you being 
               a huge disgusting pig.

                           ANGELA
               I'm serious.

     We HEAR the sharp TAP of a penny being thrown against glass.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               See?

     ANGELA crosses to the window and looks out.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
                    (spots something)
               Oh my God. Jane

64   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               64   

     We see Angela standing at the window in her underwear, looking 
     down at us.  Jane joins her and is immediately unnerved by 
     what she sees:

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 50
     9-29-00                                                     


     Their POV:  In the Burnham's DRIVEWAY, the word "JANE" is 
     spelled out in FIRE.

65   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS              65   

                           JANE
               What is it?

                           ANGELA
               It's that psycho next door. Jane, 
               what if he worships you?  What if 
               he's got a shrine with pictures of 
               you surrounded by dead people's heads 
               and stuff?

                           JANE
               Shit. I bet he's filming us right 
               now.

                           ANGELA
                    (intrigued)
               Really?

66   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               66   

     ON VIDEO: We're across from Jane's window, peering in. Jane 
     tries to shut the drapes, but Angela won't let her. Irritated, 
     Jane retreats into the room. We ZOOM toward her, even as 
     Angela poses in the window, waving, but we're clearly not 
     interested in Angela. The ZOOM continues, searching for Jane, 
     who has disappeared. Finally, we settle on the full-length 
     MIRROR on the open closet door, where we see a REFLECTION of 
     Jane, back at her computer. She's smiling.

67   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS               67   

     RICKY sits in darkness with his VIDEO camera, videotaping 
     through the open window. He lowers his camera and smiles... 
     then something below catches his attention.  He leans out 
     the window to get better look at:

68   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE -GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                       68   

     Ricky's POV: Through a WINDOW on the front of the Burnham's 
     GARAGE DOOR, we see Lester, still in his suit, digging through 
     shelves against the back wall.

69   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                      69   

     LESTER pulls aside old board games, badminton racquets, and 
     strings of Christmas lights, searching for something as if 
     his very life depended on it.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 51
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Shit. Shit!

     Then He yanks aside a box of wallpaper scrap, and his face 
     lights up at what he finds:

     A pair of DUMBBELLS, obviously unused FOR many years.

     LESTER rips off his jacket and tie and unbuttons his shirt.

     He glances around, finding his REFLECTION in the WINDOW as 
     he pulls off his shirt, then the T-shirt underneath.

     He eyes himself critically: Angela was right, he's not in 
     bad shape. Naturally broad-shouldered, with just a few extra 
     pounds around his middle that wouldn't be hard to shed. He 
     kicks off his shoes and begins to step out of his pants.

70   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS               70   

     RICKY holds his camera UP and starts to videotape.

71   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                      71   

     Ricky's POV, on VIDEO: Through the GARAGE DOOR WINDOW, we 
     see Lester stepping out of his pants. He then pulls off his 
     briefs, and stands there naked, except for black socks. He 
     grabs the dumbbells and starts lifting them over his head; 
     although he's watching his reflection in the window, it looks 
     like he's watching us as we're watching him...

72   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS               72   

     RICKY stands at the open window, videotaping.

                           RICKY
               Welcome to America's Weirdest Home 
               Videos.

     Suddenly we HEAR someone trying to open the door from the 
     other side - it's locked.

                           COLONEL (O.S.)
               Ricky!

     MOVING swiftly, RICKY pulls the drapes shut and switches on 
     a light.  His room is a haven of high-tech.  A state-of-the-
     art multimedia COMPUTER crowds his desk, and high-end STEREO 
     and VIDEO EQUIPMENT line the shelves, as well as HUNDREDS of 
     CDs.

     There is easily twenty thousand dollars worth of equipment 
     in this room.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 52
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               Coming, Dad.

                           COLONEL (O.S.)
               You know I don't like locked doors 
               in my house, boy.

     RICKY grabs a REMOTE and switches on his wide-screen TV just 
     before he opens the door.

                           RICKY
               I must have locked it by accident, 
               sorry. So what's up?

     The COLONEL holds out a small PLASTIC CUP with a CAP.

                           COLONEL
               I need a urine sample.

                           RICKY
               Wow. Is it six months already?
               Can I give it to you in the morning? 
               I just took a whiz.

     The Colonel doesn't respond. His eyes are focused on:

     On the TV: the shower scene from Top Gun plays. Seminude 
     young MALE BODIES, artfully lit.

                           COLONEL
               What the hell is that?

     RICKY turns to the TV.

                           RICKY
               Top Gun. It's about pilot training 
               in the Air Force. You never saw it?

     The COLONEL shakes his head, eyes glued to the screen.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Oh, you would love this movie, Dad.  
               Want to watch it with me?

     The COLONEL looks at him sharply, then:

                           COLONEL
               No.

     He quickly walks down the hall.  RICKY smiles, shuts and 
     locks his door.  He puts the plastic cup on the shelf, then 
     crosses to a MINI REFRIGERATOR in the corner of his room and 
     opens it.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 53
     9-29-00                                                     


     He takes out a cup-sized TUPPERWARE CONTAINER from the 
     freezer, already filled with urine, albeit frozen, and places 
     it on a saucer to thaw overnight.

73   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT        73   

     Carolyn lies sleeping; Lester is awake, staring at the 
     ceiling.  After a moment, he gets up taking care not to 
     disturb Carolyn, and walks toward the bathroom.

74   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BATH - CONTINUOUS                 74   

     LESTER enters and switches on the LIGHT. the ROOM is filled 
     with STEAM. Lester looks around, confused, then focuses on:

     His POV: across from us, in a PEDESTAL BATHTUB, is Angela.

     She smiles and beckons us, and we MOVE CLOSER. ROSE PETALS 
     float on the surface of the water, obscuring her naked body.

                           ANGELA
               I've been waiting for you.

     LESTER kneels By the BATHTUB like a MAN in church. ANGELA 
     reaches out and feels his biceps.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               Oh! You've been working out, haven't 
               you? I can tell.

     She arches her back, and her breasts protrude Through the 
     surface of the water. She looks up at Lester.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I was hoping you'd give me a bath... 
               I'm very, very dirty.

     LESTER gives her a hard look, then slowly slips his hand 
     into the water between her legs. Her eyes widen and she throws 
     her

     head back... and we SMASH CUT TO:

75   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS              75   

     CLOSE on Carolyn, her eyes wide, listening to the rhythmic 
     BRUSH of Lester's hand as he masturbates under the covers.

     She flips over and faces him.

                           CAROLYN
               What are you doing?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 54
     9-29-00                                                     


     A beat.

                           LESTER
               What does it look like I'm doing?  
               I'm whacking off.

                           CAROLYN
               What?!

     She switches on the bedside light and gets out of bed.

     Lester LAUGHS.

                           LESTER
               Spanking the monkey. Flogging the 
               bishop. Choking the chicken.  Jerking 
               the gherkin.

                           CAROLYN
               How disgusting.

                           LESTER
               Oh. Well, forgive me, but I still 
               have blood pumping through my veins!

     A beat. Carolyn sits in a chair across the ROOM from him.

                           CAROLYN
               Lester. I refuse to live like this. 
               This is not a marriage.

                           LESTER
               This hasn't been a marriage for years. 
               But you were perfectly happy as long 
               as I kept my mouth shut.  Well, guess 
               what?  I've changed. And the new me 
               whacks off when he feels horny, 
               because you're obviously not going 
               to help me out in that department.

                           CAROLYN
                    (furious)
               Don't mess with me, mister, or I 
               will divorce you so fast it'll make 
               your head spin!

                           LESTER
               On what grounds?  I'm not a drunk, I 
               don't fuck other women, I've never 
               hit you, or mistreated you, or even 
               tried to touch you since you made it 
               clear just how unnecessary you
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 55
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               consider me to be.  But.  I did 
               support you while you got your 
               license.  And some people might think 
               that entitles me to half of what's 
               yours.

     She's stunned - it's clear he knows where she's most 
     vulnerable.  He sees this, and likes it; it feels good to 
     win for a change.  He curls up under the covers contentedly.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Turn the light off when you come to 
               bed, okay?

     Carolyn just sits there, staring at him with absolute hatred.

     FADE to BLACK.

     FADE IN:

76   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - EARLY MORNING                         76   

     We're FLYING high above the neighborhood, like in Lester's 
     dream at the beginning. Below us we see the two Jims, jogging.

     We approach them steadily.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               It's a great thing to realize you 
               still have the ability to surprise 
               yourself. Makes you wonder what else 
               you can do that you've forgotten 
               about...

77   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - CONTINUOUS                            77   

     We're now at street level, FOLLOWING the two Jims.

                           LESTER (O.S.)
               Hey! You guys!

     Still running, the Jims turn back in perfect unison to see: 

     Their POV: LESTER, in a baggy sweatshirt and a pair of faded 
     old Ithaca College sweatpants, runs toward them.

     They slow down until He catches up, then the three men RUN 
     together in the early morning light.

                           JIM #2
               Lester, I didn't know you ran.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 56
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
                    (panting)
               Just started.

                           JIM #1
               Good for you.

                           LESTER
               I figured you guys might be able to 
               give me some pointers.  I need to 
               shape up.  Fast.

                           JIM #1
               Well, are you just looking to lose 
               weight, or do you want increased 
               strength and flexibility as well?

                           LESTER
               I want to look good naked.

78   EXT. FITTS HOUSE - LATER                                      78   

     The COLONEL is washing his Ford Explorer, squatting to scrub 
     the bumper, when something catches his eye:

     His POV: LESTER and the Jims jog down the street.

     The Colonel stands, scowling. Ricky comes out of the house, 
     holding the URINE SPECIMEN CUP in front of him.

                           RICKY
               Here you go, Dad. Fresh-squeezed.

     But the Colonel doesn't take it; he just keeps staring at 
     the joggers, frowning.

                           COLONEL
               What is this, the fucking gay pride 
               parade?

     Just then, LESTER sees RICKY and waves.

                           LESTER
               Yo! Ricky!

     He breaks off from the two Jims, slapping one of them on the 
     back as he does, then heads down the Fitts' driveway. The 
     Colonel turns and looks at Ricky, uneasy.

                           RICKY
               That's Mr. Burnham. He lives next 
               door.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 57
     9-29-00                                                     


     LESTER jogs UP to them, out of breath. He grabs hold of his 
     knees and bends over, panting.

                           LESTER
               My entire e life is flashing in front 
               of my eyes, and those two barely 
               broke a sweat.

     He LAUGHS, and extends his hand to the Colonel.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Hi, I'm Lester Burnham.

                           COLONEL
                    (shakes)
               Colonel Frank Fitts, U.S. Marine 
               Corps.

                           LESTER
               Whoa.  Welcome to the neighborhood, 
               sir.

     He salutes the COLONEL good-naturedly, grinning.  the COLONEL 
     doesn't think it's funny.  An awkward beat.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               So, Ricky, uh, when you get a chance, 
               I just...
                    (stalls, then, pointed)
               I just was thinking about that movie 
               you told me about...

                           RICKY
                    (quickly)
               RE-ANIMATOR. Yeah. I've got it on 
               tape. Want to borrow it?
                    (before Lester can 
                    answer)
               It's up in my room. Come on.

     He heads into the house. LESTER smiles at the COLONEL, then 
     follows him. The Colonel watches them go, his eyes dark.

79   INT. FITTS HOUSE - LIVING ROOM  MOMENTS LATER                 79   

     CLOSE on a TV: We're watching a NATURE DOCUMENTARY. Pale, 
     swollen ocean-bottom creatures lunge toward their unsuspecting 
     prey in SLOW MOTION.

     BARBARA FITTS sits across from the TV, looking somewhere in 
     its general direction. Ricky and Lester enter.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 58
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               Mom. This is Lester. He lives next 
               door.

                           BARBARA
                    (distant)
               All right, be careful.

     RICKY and LESTER head UP the stairs.

80   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER            80   

     RICKY enters, followed By Lester.

                           RICKY
               Can you hold his for a sec?

     He gives the URINE SPECIMEN to LESTER, then locks the door.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               I don't think my dad would try to 
               come in when somebody else is here, 
               but you never know.

     RICKY crosses to a bureau and opens a DRAWER.  He takes 
     clothing out and piles it on his bed.

                           LESTER
                    (re: urine cup)
               What is this?

                           RICKY
               Urine. I have to take a drug test 
               every six months to make sure I'm 
               clean.

                           LESTER
               Are you kidding? You just smoked 
               with me last night.

                           RICKY
               It's not mine. One of my clients is 
               a nurse in a pediatrician's office. 
               I cut her a deal, she keeps me in 
               clean piss.

                           LESTER
               Sweet.

     Lester picks up a CD case from a shelf and examines it: it's 
     The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 59
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You a Beatles fan?

                           RICKY
               I like a lot of music.

                           LESTER
                    (mockingly)
               When everybody else in junior high 
               was listening to the Beatles, I was 
               into Three Dog Night.

     He shakes his head, then puts the CD Case down. RICKY, Having 
     emptied the drawer, now removes a FALSE BOTTOM, revealing 
     rows of MARIJUANA tightly packed in ZIP-LOC BAGS.

                           RICKY
               How much do you want?

                           LESTER
               Uh, I'm not sure.  It's been a while.  
               How much is an ounce?

                           RICKY
                    (indicates bag)
               Well, this is totally decent, and 
               it's three hundred.

                           LESTER
               Wow.

                           RICKY
                    (indicates another 
                    bag)
               But this shit is top of the line, 
               It's called G-143.  Genetically 
               engineered by the U.S. Government.  
               Extremely potent.  But a completely 
               mellow high, no paranoia.

                           LESTER
               Is that what we smoked last night?

                           RICKY
               This is all I ever smoke.

                           LESTER
               How much?

                           RICKY
               Two grand.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 60
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Jesus. Things have certainly changed 
               since 1973.

                           RICKY
               You don't have to pay now. I know 
               you're good for it.

     A beat.

                           LESTER
               Thanks.

     RICKY hands him a bag of the top-of-the-line dope.

                           RICKY
               There's a card in there with my beeper 
               number, feel free to call me anytime 
               day or night. Oh, and I only accept 
               cash.

                           LESTER
                    (looks around room)
               Well, now I know how you can afford 
               all this equipment.  When I was your 
               age, I worked at McDonald's all summer 
               just to buy an eight track.

                           RICKY
               That sucks.

                           LESTER
               Actually, it was probably the best 
               time of my life.  All I did was party 
               and get laid.

     RICKY starts putting the DRAWER back together.

                           RICKY
               My dad thinks I paid for all this 
               with catering jobs.
                    (laughs)
               Never underestimate the power of 
               denial.

     ANGLE ON Lester, smiling. This kid's cool.

81   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - LATER THAT DAY                           81   

     Carolyn, carrying a basket of fresh cut ROSES, passes By the 
     GARAGE DOOR WINDOW. From inside the garage, we HEAR The 
     Beatles' "COME TOGETHER." Carolyn stops and SNIFFS the air, 
     frowning. She peers through the window.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 61
     9-29-00                                                     


     Her POV: LESTER, in a T- shirt and gym shorts, lies on a new 
     WEIGHT BENCH, doing bench presses with shiny new BARBELLS.

82   INT. GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                                      82   

     "Come Together" blasts from a new BOOMBOX on the floor. LESTER 
     finishes his last rep, straining, then puts the weights in 
     their rack on the bench and sits up, sweaty and out of breath.

     He takes a drag off a joint, then picks up a BOOK off the 
     floor, a bodybuilding manual titled THE COMPLETE BOOK of 
     CHEST AND ARMS.  Suddenly, the GARAGE DOOR starts to open. 
     Lester looks up, squinting at:

     His POV: the door raises to reveal Carolyn, silhouetted 
     against the bright sunlight outside, standing in front of 
     the Mercedes-Benz ML320, pointing a REMOTE at us.

     LESTER just LAUGHS. Carolyn strides in, still holding her 
     basket of roses, angry. She tries to turn off the BOOMBOX, 
     but every time she pushes a button, it skips to the next 
     song, or he FM tuner, she yanks the power cord out of the 
     wall.

                           LESTER
               Ooh.  Mom's mad.

                           CAROLYN
               What the hell do you think you're 
               doing?

                           LESTER
               Bench presses.  I'm going to wail on 
               my pecs, and then I'm going to do my 
               back.

                           CAROLYN
               You're smoking pot now?  That's a 
               fine example to set for our daughter.

                           LESTER
               You're one to talk, you bloodless, 
               money-grubbing freak.

     Carolyn is furious, But unable to think of a response, Having 
     accepted that reason is no longer an option with him.

                           CAROLYN
                    (finally, re: equipment)
               You took the Mercedes to get all 
               this stuff?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 62
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Of course I did. The Camry's too 
               small.

                           CAROLYN
               Were you stoned then?

                           LESTER
               What are you going to do, ground me?

                           CAROLYN
               Lester, that is a forty-thousand 
               dollar car. I don't want you driving 
               it when -

                           LESTER
               Fine. I'll never drive your precious 
               Mercedes again. Big whoop.  It's 
               just a glorified station wagon that 
               you paid way too much for because 
               you want to impress people.

     A beat. Carolyn stands there, powerless and hating it.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Do you mind? I'm trying to work out 
               here.
                    (then, suggestively)
               Unless you want to spot me.

     Struggling FOR dignity, Carolyn turns and walks out, then 
     stops at the garage door and turns back to him.

                           CAROLYN
               You will not get away with this, 
               mister! I promise you!

     And she's gone.  Lester smiles, then leans back on the bench 
     and grabs the weights.

                           LESTER
                    (as he lifts)
               That's. What. You. Think.

83   INT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY                                    83   

     CLOSE on a COMPUTER MONITOR: We're in some sort of virtual- 
     reality post-apocalyptic environment.  Hideous armed MUTANTS 
     approach from all angles, shooting at us.  One by one, they're 
     blown away, their heads EXPLODING in geysers of BLOOD.

                           LESTER (O.S.)
               Take that, alien bitches!

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 63
     9-29-00                                                     


     Lester sits in his cubicle at work, glued to his monitor, 
     feverishly handling a JOYSTICK.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Woo-hoo!

     From the surrounding cubicles, his co-workers watch blankly.

84   INT. BRAD'S OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER                            84   

     BRAD is seated behind his desk, reading a document. LESTER 
     sits across from him, smiling.

                           BRAD
                    (reads)
               ...my job consists of basically 
               masking my contempt for the assholes 
               in charge, and, at least once a day, 
               retiring to the men's room so I can 
               jerk off while I fantasize about a 
               life that doesn't so closely resemble 
               hell.
                    (looks up at Lester)
               Well, you obviously have no interest 
               in saving yourself.

                           LESTER
                    (laughs)
               I've spent fourteen years being a 
               whore for the advertising industry.  
               The only way I could save myself now 
               is to start firebombing.

                           BRAD
               Whatever. Management wants you gone 
               by the end of the day.

                           LESTER
               Whoa.  What kind of severance package 
               is "management" prepared to give me?  
               Considering the information I have 
               about our editorial director buying 
               pussy with company money.

     A beat.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Which I'm sure would interest the 
               I.R.S., since, technically, it does 
               constitute fraud.  And some of our 
               advertisers and rival publications 
               might like to know about it as well.  
               Not to mention Craig's wife.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 64
     9-29-00                                                     


     A beat. BRAD sighs.

                           BRAD
               What do you want?

                           LESTER
               One year's salary, with continued 
               benefits.

                           BRAD
               That's not going to happen.

                           LESTER
               What if I throw in a little sexual 
               harassment charge?

     BRAD LAUGHS.

                           BRAD
               Against who?

                           LESTER
               Against you.

     BRAD stops LAUGHING.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Can you prove you didn't offer to 
               save my job if I'd let you blow me?

     BRAD leans back in his chair, studying Lester.

                           BRAD
               Man. You are one twisted fuck.

                           LESTER
                    (standing)
               Nope.  Just an ordinary guy with 
               nothing to lose.

     LESTER starts toward the door, then:

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I hope you and I can still be friends, 
               Brad.  And even though you didn't 
               save my job...
                    (smiling)
               You can still blow me, asshole.

     And he exits.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 65
     9-29-00                                                     


85   INT. RESTAURANT - THE SAME DAY                                85   

     Carolyn sits at a table by herself, lost in thought.  there 
     are two menus on the table.  After a moment, Leonard Kane, 
     the Real Estate King, joins her.  Upon seeing him, Carolyn 
     immediately becomes warm and gracious.

                           CAROLYN
               Leonard.

                           LEONARD
               Carolyn.

     Carolyn smiles, genuinely touched that he remembers her name.

                           LEONARD (CONT'D)
               I'm so sorry I kept you waiting.

     Christy left for New York this morning, and... let's just 
     say things were very hectic around my house.

                           CAROLYN
               What's she doing in New York?

                           LEONARD
               She's moving there.
                    (off Carolyn's look)
               We're splitting up.

                           CAROLYN
               Leonard. I'm so sorry.

     She places her hand on his, Suddenly deeply concerned.

                           LEONARD
                    (bitterly)
               Yes, according to her, I'm too focused 
               on my career. As if being driven to 
               succeed is some sort of character 
               flaw. Of course, she certainly took 
               advantage of the lifestyle my success 
               afforded her
                    (then laughing)
               Believe me, it's for the best.

                           CAROLYN
               But when I saw you two at the party 
               the other night, you seemed perfectly 
               happy.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 66
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LEONARD
               Well, call me crazy, but... it's my 
               philosophy that to actually be 
               successful, one must project an image 
               of success, at all times.

     He smiles, then opens his menu.  Carolyn picks hers UP 
     mechanically, but continues to stare at him, enraptured, 
     like a fervent Christian who's just come face to face with 
     Jesus.

86   EXT. HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS - LATER THAT DAY                      86   

     Students pour out of the BUILDING at the end of the day.  we 
     follow Jane and Angela as they head toward the parking lot. 
     A handsome teenage JOCK walks past them.

                           JOCK
                    (to Angela, grabbing 
                    his crotch)
               Just say the word, baby, and it's 
               yours.

                           ANGELA
               Great. Wrap it up and I'll take it 
               home. Oh, and I'd like thin slices, 
               please.

                           JOCK
                    (laughs)
               You know you want it, you stuck-up 
               bitch.

     And he's gone.

                           JANE
               What is with you? Everyone I know is 
               dying to do it with him.

                           ANGELA
               Oh, please. I would totally fall 
               asleep. Trust me, Jane, once you've 
               fucked that black guy who does the 
               Polo ads, you're a little spoiled.

     She spots something and grabs Jane's arm.

                           JANE
               Ow.

                           ANGELA
               Look.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 67
     9-29-00                                                     


     Her POV: RICKY stands at the edge of the parking lot with 
     his VIDEO CAMERA, videotaping something on the ground at his 
     feet.

     ON VIDEO: A dead BIRD lays on the asphalt, decomposing, 
     covered with ants and flies.

                           ANGEL
               What are you doing?

     On VIDEO: the camera JERKS UP to discover JANE and ANGELA 
     staring at us.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               I was filming this dead bird.

                           ANGELA
               Why?

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Because it's beautiful.

     On VIDEO: ANGELA looks at JANE, trying not to laugh.

                           ANGELA
               I think maybe you forgot your 
               medication today, mental boy.

     On VIDEO: she falls out of frame as we ZOOM in on Jane.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Hi, Jane.

                           JANE
                    (uncomfortable)
               Look. I want you to stop filming me.

     RICKY lowers the CAMERA.

                           RICKY
               Okay.

     He looks at her, curious, his eyes searching hers. she finally 
     has to look away.

                           ANGELA
               Hey, I have an idea! Let's all go to 
               the mall together.
                    (off Jane's look)
               He can film us doing things.

                           JANE
               What kind of things?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 68
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA
               I don't know.
                    (to Ricky, suggestive)
               What kind of things do you like to 
               film?

                           RICKY
                    (looking at Jane)
               Things that are beautiful.

                           ANGELA
               Okay.  We can take my car.

     ANGELA starts off.  JANE looks doubtful, But follows.

                           RICKY
                    (to Jane)
               Do you do everything she says?

                           JANE
                    (defensive)
               No. I want to go.

                           RICKY
               Okay. Just making sure.

87   EXT. TOP HAT MOTEL - THE SAME DAY                             87   

     Carolyn's Mercedes-Benz ML320 is parked next to a forest 
     green JAGUAR CONVERTIBLE with a VANITY LICENSE PLATE that 
     reads "R E KING."

88   INT. TOP HAT MOTEL - CONTINUOUS                               88   

     Carolyn and Leonard are in the middle of sex. Dramatic, 
     pyrotechnic, vocal sex.

                           CAROLYN
               Yes! Oh, God, yes!

                           LEONARD
               You like getting nailed by the king?

                           CAROLYN
               Yes! I love it! Oh, yes! Fuck me, 
               your majesty!

89   INT. TOYOTA CAMRY - THE SAME DAY                              89   

     LESTER drives, smoking a joint. He SINGS along to the Beatles' 
     "GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE" on the STEREO.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 69
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               I WAS ALONE, I TOOK A RIDE, I DIDN'T 
               KNOW WHAT I WOULD FIND THERE... 
               ANOTHER ROAD, WHERE MAYBE I COULD 
               SEE ANOTHER KIND of MIND THERE...

     He trails off, as something outside catches his attention:

     His POV: A FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT called SMILEY'S.  The logo 
     on the sign features a yellow SMILEY-FACE with a red tongue 
     licking its smiling lips.  Underneath it, plastic letters 
     spell out:  NOW TAKING APPLICATIONS.

     Lester's face suddenly takes on a far-away expression.

90   INT. SMILEY'S - MOMENT LATER                                  90   

     A slightly overweight TEENAGE GIRL mans the counter; behind 
     her, a couple of slow-moving teenagers work... vaguely.  
     They all wear bright yellow uniforms and white BASEBALL CAPS 
     which feature the SMILEY'S logo.  Lester enters, straightening 
     his tie, and crosses to the counter.

                           COUNTER GIRL
                    (zombie like)
               Smile, you're at Smiley's Would you 
               like to try our new bacon and egg 
               fajita, just a dollar twenty-nine 
               for a limited time only?

                           LESTER
               Actually, I'd like to fill out an 
               application.

     She stares at him, confused By his age and attire.

                           COUNTER GIRL
               There's not jobs for manager, it's 
               just for counter.

                           LESTER
               Good. I'm looking for the least 
               possible amount of responsibility.

91   INT. SMILEY'S - LATER                                         91   

     LESTER sits at a booth with the MANAGER, a greasy kid wearing 
     a white short sleeve shirt and a tie covered with the Smiley's 
     logo. He looks over Lester's application baffled.

                           MANAGER
               I don't think you'd fit in here.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 70
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               I have fast food experience.

                           MANAGER
               Yes, like twenty years ago.

                           LESTER
               Well, I'm sure there have been amazing 
               technological advancements in the 
               industry, but... surely you have 
               some sort of training process.  It 
               seems unfair to presume I won't be 
               able to learn.

     The Manger frowns, unconvinced.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Should you choose not to hire me, I 
               have to assume it's because of my 
               age, which I can only interpret as 
               discrimination and would have to 
               take up with my attorney.

     The Manager sighs and runs an hand through his greasy hair, 
     wondering what he could possibly have done to deserve this.

92   EXT. HIGHWAY - LATER                                          92   

     Artificial Joy Club's "SICK AND BEAUTIFUL" blasts as Angela's 
     BMW speeds down the highway.

93   INT. ANGELA'S BMW - CONTINUOUS                                93   

     ON VIDEO: Angela is driving; Jane is in the passenger seat.

     We're watching from the back as they pass a JOINT. Angela 
     spots us in the REAR VIEW MIRROR and turns back to us.

                           ANGELA
               Hi. I'm Angela, and welcome to my 
               car. My guest today is Jane Burnham. 
               Jane, why don't you tell us about 
               yourself?

                           JANE
               No

                           ANGELA
               Oh, come on.
                    (a pointed look to us)
               I'm sure our audience wants to know 
               all about you.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 71
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               Angela, look out!

     ANGELA turns back around to see that traffic has Suddenly 
     backed up in front of her. She slams on the BRAKES.

94   EXT. HIGHWAY - CONTINUOUS                                     94   

     Angela's BMW SCREECHES to halt, almost colliding with the 
     car in front of her.

95   INT. ANGELA'S BMW - CONTINUOUS                                95   

     ANGELA and JANE sit there, stunned, breathing heavily.  RICKY 
     seems completely unaffected.

                           RICKY
               What's going on?

                           JANE
               I think there's been a wreck.

                           RICKY
               Really? A big one?

     He rolls down a window, then starts to climb out of it.

                           ANGELA
               What are you doing?

96   EXT. ANGELA'S BMW - CONTINUOUS                                96   

     RICKY hangs out of the CAR window, focusing his VIDEO camera 
     as the traffic inches forward.

     On VIDEO: over the roofs of the cars in front of us, we see 
     the flashing LIGHTS of police cars and an ambulance, as well 
     as FLARES on the pavement. One car is completely totaled, 
     and PARAMEDICS are utilizing MACHINERY to release the driver.

     Back on RICKY, hanging out the window.

                           RICKY
               Wow. I've always wanted to see the 
               Jaws of Life.

97   INT. ANGELA'S BMW - CONTINUOUS                                97   

                           ANGELA
               What the fuck is he talking about?

     They're pulling up alongside the accident now. Jane cranes 
     her neck to look.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 72
     9-29-00                                                     


     Her POV: the paramedics pull the bloody, broken BODY of a 
     young man out of the car.

                           JANE
                    (disgusted)
               Oh God.

                           ANGELA
               Gross. There goes dinner.

     Past the accident now, they return to normal speed with the 
     rest of the traffic. Ricky climbs back into the car.

                           RICKY
               That was amazing.

                           JANE
                    (snort)
               What was amazing about it?

     A beat.

                           RICKY
               When you see something like that, 
               it's like God is looking right at 
               you, just for a second.  And if you're 
               careful, you can look right back.

     ANGELA rolls her eyes. But JANE looks at RICKY, intrigued.

                           JANE
               And what do you see?

                           RICKY
               Beauty.

                           JANE
                    (after a beat)
               Is it only dead things?

     RICKY seems surprised By This question.

                           RICKY
               No. Not at all. No, it's everywhere. 
               You just have to be open to it.

     He looks at her, curious, his eyes searching hers. This time, 
     she doesn't look away. He smiles. Jane almost smiles back...  
     then:

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 73
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
                    (to Angela)
               You know what?  Let's bag the mall.  
               It's boring.

     She glances back over her shoulder at RICKY and smiles.

                           ANGELA
               Whatever.
                    (to Ricky)
               Hey, turn that camera back on, and 
               do like it's my talk show again.  
               That was fun.

                           RICKY
               I'd rather not.

     His POV: ANGELA glares at us in REAR view MIRROR.

98   INT. TOP HAT MOTEL - THE SAME DAY                             98   

     Carolyn and Leonard are in bed, post-sex, eating Club 
     sandwiches from room service.

                           CAROLYN
               That was exactly what I needed.  The 
               royal treatment, so to speak.

     She HOWLS, as if This were the funniest thing ever said.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               I was soooo stressed out.

                           LEONARD
               Know what I do when I get that way?

     Carolyn sits UP FOR This, eager to learn from the master.

                           LEONARD (CONT'D)
               I fire a gun.

                           CAROLYN
                    (intrigued)
               Really.

                           LEONARD
               Yep. I go to this little firing range 
               downtown, pop off a few rounds, and 
               it always makes me feel better.

                           CAROLYN
                    (embarrassed)
               I've never fired a gun before.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 74
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LEONARD
               Oh, you have to try it. Nothing makes 
               you feel more powerful.

     He grins, then reaches FOR her.

                           LEONARD (CONT'D)
               Well, almost nothing.

     Carolyn GASPS as his hand reach her neck. She's living some 
     kind of dream here, and she makes her most seductive face as 
     he pulls her to him...

99   INT. RECORD STORE - THE SAME DAY                              99   

     LESTER, still in his business suit, But now wearing a Smiley's 
     BASEBALL CAP, approaches the checkout counter with a stack 
     of about twenty CDs.  The CLERK, a young, trendy kid wearing 
     a BACKWARD BASEBALL CAP,  starts going through the CDs.  We 
     see the covers as he scans them:  The Beatles, The Rolling 
     Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix...

                           CLERK
               Catching up?

                           LESTER
               Yep.

     LESTER stands there, Smiling, as the clerk rings UP his sale.

     After a beat, he flips his baseball cap around so it's 
     backwards.

100   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - LATER                                  100   

     Angela's BMW pulls close to, but not into, the Burnham's 
     driveway. Jane and Ricky climb out, and Angela pulls off, 
     her tires SQUEALING as she goes.

                           JANE
               What's her problem?

                           RICKY
               She doesn't like when you're not 
               totally focused on her.

     They start down the driveway.

                           JANE
               So, what's the most beautiful thing 
               you've ever filmed?

     A beat.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 75
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               I'll show it to you.

101   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER                  101   

     Barbara Fitts sits absolutely still at the kitchen table, 
     staring off into space as if hypnotized. Behind her, Ricky 
     enters through the back door, followed by Jane. Barbara 
     doesn't seem to hear them. Ricky quietly takes his VIDEO 
     CAMERA out of his backpack and focuses it on his mother.

     ON VIDEO: We CIRCLE Barbara slowly until we're focused on 
     her face. We stay on her for a long beat, then:

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Mom
                    (no response)

     Mom ON VIDEO: Barbara's eyes flutter and she turns to us 
     slowly.

                           BARBARA
                    (pleasant)
               Yes?

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               What were you just thinking about?

                           BARBARA
               I...
                    (thinks)
               No. Nothing.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Wow.  People study meditation for 
               years to be able to reach that same 
               state of mind.

                           BARBARA
               Huh. What do you know.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Mom, I want you to meet somebody.

     She's standing behind you.

     ON VIDEO: Barbara turns to Jane, who's embarrassed by this.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               This is Jane.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 76
     9-29-00                                                     


                           BARBARA
               Oh, my. I apologize for the way things 
               look around here.

     On VIDEO: JANE glances around. the KITCHEN is spotless.

102   INT. FITTS HOUSE - THE COLONEL'S STUDY - MOMENTS LATER      102   

     We HEAR KEY TURNING in the lock, then the door opens and 
     Ricky enters, holding a RING of KEYS, followed by Jane.

                           RICKY
               This is where my Dad hides out.

     GLASS CASES filled with GUNS line the walls.

                           JANE
               Wow. I take it he's got a thing for 
               guns.

     RICKY crosses to a built-in CABINET behind the desk.

                           RICKY
               You got to see this one thing...

     He unlocks the CABINET and opens it, revealing shelves stacked 
     with WAR MEMORABILIA.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Man, he would kill me if he knew I 
               was in here...

                           JANE
               Did you steal his keys?

                           RICKY
               No.  One of my clients is a locksmith. 
               He was short on cash so I let him 
               pay me in trade.

     He reaches into the CABINET and carefully removes an oval 
     CHINA PLATTER which he hands to Jane. She examines it

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Turn it over.

     CLOSE on the bottom of the plate: a small SWASTIKA is 
     imprinted in the center, surrounded by GERMAN LETTERING.

                           JANE
               Oh my God.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 77
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               It's like official state china from 
               the Third Reich. There's like this 
               whole subculture of people who collect 
               this Nazi shit. But my dad just has 
               this one thing.

     He puts the platter back into the cabinet and shuts the door, 
     then notices Jane looking at him oddly.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               What's wrong?

                           JANE
               Nothing.

                           RICKY
                    (concerned)
               No,  you're scared of me.

                           JANE
               No I'm not.

     But she is.  RICKY studies her.

                           RICKY
               Come on, let's go to my room

103   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER          103   

     RICKY enters, followed By Jane.  He shuts the door, then 
     takes his VIDEO CAMERA out of his backpack.  Jane looks around 
     at all the AUDIO/VIDEO EQUIPMENT.

                           JANE
               So let me guess:  you want to be, 
               like a movie director or something.

     He doesn't answer, he just starts to videotape her.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
                    (irritated)
               Ha. I should have known. You're just 
               like every other dweeb who worships 
               Quentin Tarantino for the same reason 
               you can't let go of that camera: 
               because you don't know how to be a 
               real person in real life. It's so 
               obvious.

                           RICKY
               You think you're not obvious?
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 78
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               You sit in front of your mirror, 
               wondering what it would be like to 
               be beautiful, like Angela. But the 
               truth is, you're more beautiful than 
               she'll ever be. Because you're more 
               real. Because you...

     He starts to SING, in a clear, deep voice.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               YOU... LIGHT UP MY LIFE...

     JANE stares at him, unsure whether she should laugh or run.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               YOU GIVE ME HOPE... TO CARRY ON...

     She finally LAUGHS. He lowers the camera and smiles.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Want to see the most beautiful thing 
               I've ever filmed?

104   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - LATER                  104   

     On VIDEO: were in an empty parking lot on a cold, gray day.

     Something is floating across from us... it's an empty, 
     wrinkled, white PLASTIC BAG. We follow it as the wind carries 
     it in a circle around us, sometimes whipping it about 
     violently, or, without warning, sending it soaring skyward, 
     then letting it float gracefully down to the ground...

     Jane sits on the bed.  She watches Ricky's WIDE-SCREEN TV, 
     her brow furrowed, trying to figure out why this is beautiful.

     From a chair across the ROOM, RICKY watches, smiling.

                           RICKY
               It was one of those days when it's a 
               minute away from snowing and there's 
               this electricity in the air, you can 
               almost hear it, right?

     And this bag was like, dancing with me.  Like a little kid 
     begging me to play with it.  For fifteen minutes.  And that's 
     the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and 
     ... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know 
     there was no reason to be afraid.  Ever.

     A beat.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 79
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Video's a poor excuse. But it helps 
               me remember... and I need to 
               remember...

     Now JANE is watching him.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
                    (distant)
               Sometimes there's so much beauty in 
               the world I feel like I can't take 
               it, like my heart's going to cave 
               in.

     He points a REMOTE at the TV and switches it off, then just 
     sits there lost in thought, not unlike his mother.

     After a moment, JANE gets up. RICKY watches impassively as 
     she kneels in front of him and takes his hands and kisses 
     them. Then she leans up and kisses him softly on the lips. 
     His eyes scan hers, curious to see how she reacts to this...

                           JANE
                    (suddenly)
               Oh my God. What time is it?

105   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - DINING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER            105   

     We HEAR Jack Jones singing "YOU'D BETTER LOVE ME." Lester is 
     seated at the dining table, in a T-shirt and jeans, eating 
     his dinner voraciously and drinking beer from a bottle. Across 
     from him, Carolyn picks at her food, watching him with 
     contempt.  He HEAR the back door SLAM, then Jane enters and 
     quickly takes her seat at the table.

                           JANE
               Sorry I'm late.

                           CAROLYN
               That's quite all right, dear.  Your 
               father and I were just discussing 
               his day at work.
                    (to Lester)
               Why don't you tell our daughter about 
               it, honey?

     JANE stares at both her parents, apprehensive.  LESTER looks 
     at Carolyn darkly, then flashes a "you-asked-for-it" grin.

                           LESTER
               Janie, today I quit my job. I also 
               told my boss to fuck himself, and
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 80
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               then blackmailed him for almost sixty-
               thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.

                           CAROLYN
               Your father seems to think this kind 
               of behavior is something to be proud 
               of.

                           LESTER
               And your mother seems to prefer I go 
               through life like a fucking prisoner 
               while she keeps my dick in a mason 
               jar under the sink.

                           CAROLYN
                    (ashen)
               How dare you speak to me like that 
               in front of her?

                           LESTER
               Will someone please pass me the 
               asparagus?

                           CAROLYN
                    (to Lester)
               I hope you don't think for one minute 
               I'm going to support you

                           LESTER
               I already have another job.

                           JANE
                    (rises)
               Okay, guys? I'm not going to be a 
               part of this.

                           LESTER
                    (means it)
               Sit down.

     JANE does so immediately, surprised and intimidated by the 
     power in her father's voice.  Lester gets up, crosses to the 
     other side of the table to get a PLATE of ASPARAGUS, then 
     sits again as he serves himself.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               I'm sick of being treated like I 
               don't exist.  You both do whatever 
               you want to do, whenever you want to 
               do it and I don't complain.  All I 
               want is the same courtesy -

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 81
     9-29-00                                                     


                           CAROLYN
                    (overlapping)
               Do you really think -

     LESTER hurls the plate of asparagus against the wall with 
     such force it SHATTERS, frightening Carolyn and Jane.

                           LESTER
               Don't interrupt me, honey.

     He goes back to eating his meal, as if nothing unusual has 
     happened. Carolyn sits in her chair, shivering with rage. 
     Jane just stares at the plate in front of her. "YOU'D BETTER 
     LOVE ME" continues to play on the STEREO.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Oh, and another thing. From now on, 
               we're going to alternate our dinner 
               music. Because frankly, and I don't 
               think I'm alone here, I'm really 
               tired of this Lawrence Welk shit.

106   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - CONTINUOUS                          106   

     The Colonel's Ford Explorer winds down the street.

107   INT. COLONEL'S FORD EXPLORER - CONTINUOUS                   107   

     The COLONEL drives, stoic as always. something outside catches 
     the Colonel's eye.

     His POV: We're driving past the two Jims' house. They're 
     reclining in their SWING, their dog Bitsy curled up at their 
     feet.  One Jim runs his hand through the other's hair and 
     kisses him lightly.

     The Colonel stares, 0utraged.

108   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - LATER                 108   

     JANE is sprawled on her bed, talking on the phone.

                           JANE
               Oh my God, Angela, it was like they 
               both turned into maniacs right in 
               front of me.  And I think my dad was 
               high...

     There is a KNOCK at the door.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I'll have to call you back.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 82
     9-29-00                                                     


     She hangs up the phone, then calls out:

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               Go. Away.

                           CAROLYN (O.S.)
               Honey, please let me in.

     JANE rolls her eyes, crosses to the door and opens it.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               I wish you hadn't witnessed that 
               awful scene tonight. But in a way, 
               I'm glad.

                           JANE
               Why, so I could see what freaks you 
               and Dad really are?

                           CAROLYN
               Me?

     She stares at JANE, then starts to cry.

                           JANE
               Aw, Christ, Mom.

                           CAROLYN
                    (tearful)
               The reason I'm glad is because you're 
               old enough to learn the most important 
               lesson in life: you cannot count on 
               anyone except yourself. It's sad, 
               but true and the sooner you learn 
               it, the better off you'll be.

                           JANE
               Look, I really don't feel like having 
               a Kodak moment, here -

     Carolyn Suddenly SLAPS JANE, hard.

                           CAROLYN
               You ungrateful little brat.  Just 
               look at everything you have.  When I 
               was your age, I lived in a duplex.  
               We didn't even have our own house.

     Embarrassed By her behavior, she quickly leaves.  JANE sits 
     on the bed for a moment, rubbing her cheek.  Then crosses to 
     the window and looks out.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 83
     9-29-00                                                     


109   EXT. FITTS HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               109   

     Jane's POV: We're across from Ricky's room, peering in. He's 
     moved his desk chair over by the window, where he sits with 
     his VIDEO CAMERA, videotaping us. On the WIDE TV behind him, 
     we see Jane standing in her window as she looks across at 
     him.

     She waves. Ricky just keeps videotaping. A beat, then she 
     starts to unbutton her shirt.

110   INT. FITTS HOUSE - THE COLONEL'S STUDY - CONTINUOUS         110   

     We HEAR KEYS TURNING, then the door opens and the COLONEL 
     enters, still disturbed by what he just saw. He places his 
     briefcase and KEYS on the desk, then sits and tries to sort 
     through the mail in his hand. Unable to concentrate, he throws 
     the mail down, angry. He sits very still for a moment, some 
     internal struggle obviously taking place, then grabs his 
     KEYS off the desk and turns to unlock the built-in CABINET 
     behind the desk, only to find that it's already open...

111   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS             111   

     We're behind Ricky, as he videotapes Jane in her window. She 
     has now removed her shirt and jeans. She stands there in her 
     bra and panties, then reaches behind her back to unhook the 
     bra...

     On VIDEO: we ZOOM toward JANE as she takes off her bra 
     clumsily. She's obviously embarrassed, but she's gone this 
     far and there's no turning back. She stands there with her 
     breasts exposed, trying to look defiant, but she's achingly 
     vulnerable. We continue ZOOMING toward her face, as close as 
     we can get to the desperate yearning in her eyes...

     Suddenly, the door is thrown open and the Colonel enters, 
     incensed, carrying his KEYS. Startled, Ricky turns around. 
     As soon as his eyes meet his father's, he knows what's up.

                           RICKY
               Dad, I just wanted to show-

                           COLONEL
               You little bastard -

     He lunges toward RICKY, who scrambles to dodge him. But the 
     Colonel is too fast and too agile; he quickly grabs the boy 
     by the throat and shoves him up against the wall.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 84
     9-29-00                                                     


112   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                             112   

     Jane's POV:  In the WINDOW across from us, the Colonel 
     proceeds to give Ricky a serious beating, punching his face.

113   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS             113   

     Ricky's lip is bleeding, but he maintains a clear steady 
     gaze at this father during this violence.

                           COLONEL
                    (unnerved)
               Fight back you little pussy!

                           RICKY
               No, sir. I won't fight you.

     Gradually, the COLONEL winds down. He lets go of RICKY and 
     sinks into a chair, breathing hard.

                           COLONEL
               How did you get in there?

                           RICKY
               I picked the lock.

                           COLONEL
               What were you looking for?  Money?  
               Are you on dope again?

                           RICKY
               No sir. I was showing my girlfriend 
               your Nazi plate.

     A beat.

                           COLONEL
               Girlfriend?

                           RICKY
               Yes, sir. She lives next door. The 
               Colonel glances toward the window.

     His POV: in the window across from us, JANE peeks out from 
     behind the curtain.  She quickly pulls it shut.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Her name's Jane.

     A beat.  the COLONEL is Suddenly, deeply shamed.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 85
     9-29-00                                                     


                           COLONEL
               This is for your own good, boy.  You 
               have no respect for other people's 
               things, for authority, for... 
               anything.

                           RICKY
               I know.  I'm sorry.

                           COLONEL
               You need structure, you need 
               discipline -

                           RICKY
                    (simultaneous)
               Discipline.  I know.  Thank you for 
               trying to teach me.
                    (then)
               Don't give up on me, Dad.

     The COLONEL, still breathing heavily, regards his son. FOR 
     the briefest moment, we see a flash of tenderness across his 
     face, but then it's gone. He gets up.

                           COLONEL
               You stay out of there.

     He leaves, quickly, glancing back toward the window on his 
     way out. Ricky then gets up and goes into his bathroom, where 
     he starts to calmly wash the blood from his face.

114   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE' S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS           114   

     JANE sits on her bed crying, shaken by what she just saw.

115   INT. FITTS HOUSE - THE COLONEL'S STUDY - CONTINUOUS         115   

     The COLONEL enters, still breathing heavily, and locks the 
     door behind him. He paces for a moment, agitated, then crosses 
     to the built-in CABINET behind his desk and opens it. He 
     removes the Nazi platter and gingerly places it on the desk, 
     then does the same with several other items until he uncovers 
     a small METAL BOX. He sits behind the desk, staring at the 
     box, troubled. He finally opens it.

     ANGLE ON the open box: it's filled with PHOTOGRAPHS. The 
     Colonel pulls one from the bottom of the box...

     CLOSE on the grainy BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPH in his callused 
     hands: it's of TWO YOUNG SERVICEMEN standing in front of a 
     Jeep, both shirtless and wearing fatigues. Their muscular 
     arms are draped lazily around each other's shoulders as they

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 86
     9-29-00                                                     


     grin for the camera. One of these men is the Colonel himself, 
     albeit much younger - almost thirty years younger.

     CLOSE on the Colonel's face as he studies the photo.  His 
     breathing has finally relaxed; his face has gone vacant.

116   INT. FITTS HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT                   116   

     It's late at night.  We're looking down on the Colonel and 
     Barbara in bed.  She SNORES softly, but the Colonel is awake, 
     staring straight up at us.  After a moment he pushes the 
     covers back, gets out of bed and exits the room noisily, but 
     Barbara is sleeping the sleep of the dead and doesn't wake.

117   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER                  117   

     The COLONEL enters, agitated.  He flips on the LIGHTS, then 
     opens the refrigerator, scans its contents, and closes the 
     door without having noticed what was inside. He paces around 
     the kitchen, then stops in his tracks when he sees:

     His POV: Through the window over the sink, we can see through 
     the GARAGE DOOR WINDOW of the Burnham house next door. Inside 
     the garage, Lester, wearing only briefs, stands doing shoulder 
     presses. His upper body, glistening in sweat, is pumped.

     The COLONEL quickly crosses to the light switch and switches 
     the LIGHTS OFF. He stands absolutely still for a moment, 
     then drags a chair from the kitchen table over to the sink 
     and sits in the dark, watching Lester.

     FADE to BLACK.

     in darkness, we HEAR repetitive GUNSHOTS.

     FADE IN:

118   INT. INDOOR FIRING RANGE - DAY                              118   

     Carolyn, wearing PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR, is holding a GLOCK 19 
     AUTOMATIC REVOLVER with both hands, FIRING it directly at 
     us.

     A DIFFERENT ANGLE reveals she is at an INDOOR FIRING range.  
     She empties a round and stands there, exhilarated by the 
     experience. An ATTENDANT approaches with a new round of 
     ammunition.

                           ATTENDANT
                    (loading gun)
               I gotta say, Mrs. Burnham, when you 
               first came in here, I thought you
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 87
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ATTENDANT (CONT'D)
               would be hopeless.  But you're a 
               natural.

                           CAROLYN
               Well, all I know is...

     She starts FIRING again.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               I love shooting this gun!

119   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML3020 - LATER                           119   

     Ella Fitzgerald sings "GET HAPPY" on the RADIO.  Carolyn 
     drives SINGING along.  Her face has dropped the resolute 
     determination we're used to; she's actually enjoying herself 
     spontaneously, and the lack of her usual self-consciousness 
     allows us to see just how beautiful she is.  She reaches 
     over suddenly and opens the glove compartment.

     ANGLE ON the open glove compartment:  Carolyn's GLOCK rests 
     on top of some CDs.

     Carolyn takes the gun out and holds it at arm's length, 
     admiring it as she continues to SING.

120   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - CONTINUOUS                          120   

     The MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 turns onto ROBIN Hood Trail.

121   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       121   

     Carolyn's POV: We approach the Burnham house and turn into 
     the driveway. A red 1972 PONTIAC GTO with black racing stripes 
     blocks our access to the garage. We come to a stop.

     ANGLE ON CAROLYN'S FACE AS SHE STARES AT THE GTO. SHE DOESN'T

     like having things in her way.

     ANGLE ON CAROLYN'S FACE AS SHE STARES AT THE GTO. SHE DOESN'T

     like having things in her way.

122   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - MOMENTS LATER            122   

     CLOSE on the TV screen: The "FLINTSTONES" THEME SONG plays, 
     and Fred Flintstone bangs on the door of his prehistoric 
     home, yelling, "Wilma!" as the closing credits scroll past.

     LESTER is sprawled on the couch in his underwear, drinking a 
     beer and watching TV. His working out is beginning to produce

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 88
     9-29-00                                                     


     results. Carolyn enters through the kitchen. She stands there, 
     staring at Lester. After a moment, he looks up at her.

                           LESTER
               What?

                           CAROLYN
               Whose car is that out front?

                           LESTER
               Mine.  1972 Pontiac GTO.  The car I 
               always wanted and now I have it.  I 
               rule!

                           CAROLYN
               Where's the Camry?

                           LESTER
               I traded it in.

                           CAROLYN
               Shouldn't you have consulted me first?

                           LESTER
               Hm. Let me think... No.
                    (off her look)
               You never drove it.

     A beat.

                           CAROLYN
               Where's Jane?

                           LESTER
                    (mimicking her)
               Where's the Camry? Where's Jane?
               Where's my butt?
                    (then)
               I don't know where Jane is. She's 
               probably as far away from you as she 
               could get.

     Carolyn regards him Through narrow eyes, filled with hate.

                           CAROLYN
                    (quietly)
               I'm not as helpless as you think I 
               am.

     He looks UP at her. Carolyn holds his gaze FOR a beat, then 
     turns and walks out of the room.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 89
     9-29-00                                                     


123   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS             123   

     We HEAR Babybird's "ATOMIC SODA."

     ON VIDEO: We're outside, in a wooded area, looking up at the 
     sun through tree branches, then we PAN down to see a path 
     through the trees in front of us. SOMETHING OUT of FOCUS 
     crosses by in front us, obscuring our view. We slowly ZOOM 
     back and see that it's Jane, or rather, just a corner of her 
     face, as she looks at us, her eyes shining. Her hand brushes 
     the hair off her face and we stay on her hand. It swings 
     back and forth gracefully she walks ahead in front of us... 
     we JUMP

                                                          CUT TO:

     ON VIDEO: CLOSE on Jane's naked calves, her jeans rolled up, 
     as she dangles her feet in a pond. The water RIPPLES in 
     concentric circles every time she dips her toes in, not unlike 
     the water in the jail cell sink at the beginning... we JUMP

                                                          CUT TO:

     ON VIDEO: We're MOVING in a circle, as Jane runs around us 
     in the opposite direction, so that we see only FLASHES of 
     HER RUNNING by, LAUGHING... JUMP CUT to:

     On VIDEO: JANE in profile, looking toward the sky, her yes 
     shut, enjoying the sun on her face.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Jesus, you're beautiful.

     She looks at us and smiles, her guard down, her face empty 
     of its usual vaguely contemptuous expression, and, indeed, 
     she is beautiful: young, happy, hopeful.  We linger on her 
     face for a moment.  She brings her hand up to caress her 
     cheek, and then,

     still smiling, she slowly flips us the bird... we JUMP CUT 
     to:

     ON VIDEO: We're looking at Jane's SHADOW, clearly delineated 
     by the bright sun against a textured carpet of fallen leaves 
     on the forest floor. We HEAR her GIGGLE as she makes shadow 
     puppets with her hand, then we MOVE around so that we're 
     looking up at her, silhouetted against the sun. Even though 
     we can't make out her features, this image seems transcendent, 
     almost religious.

     ON VIDEO: Jane in Ricky's bed, naked. She quickly pulls a 
     sheet up over her breasts.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 90
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
                    (shy)
               Don' t.

     PULLING back, we see we've been watching the WIDE-SCREEN TV 
     in Ricky's room.

     A CORD leads from the TV to Ricky's VIDEO CAMERA. Ricky holds 
     the camera, sitting naked in his desk chair. It's been almost 
     a month since he was beaten up by his father, and there are 
     a couple of slight SCARS on his face. He's focusing his camera 
     on Jane, who's lying in his bed. We see her image on the TV.

     Babybird's "ATOMIC SODA" plays on the STEREO.

                           RICKY
               Why?

                           JANE
                    (re: image on TV)
               It's okay when you're just filming 
               me, because that's just you, looking 
               at me.  But it's weird, watching 
               myself.  I don't like how I look.

                           RICKY
               I can't believe you don't know how 
               beautiful you are.

                           JANE
               Look, I'm not going to sit here for 
               that shit.

     She gets out of bed, takes his camera and focuses it on him.

     We see his image on the TV as she videotapes.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               Ha.  How does it feel now?

                           RICKY
               Fine.

                           JANE
               You don't feel naked?

                           RICKY
               I am naked.

                           JANE
               You know what I mean.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 91
     9-29-00                                                     


     Jane ZOOMS in on his face, which remains placid, still, 
     expressionless.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               Tell me about being in the hospital.

     RICKY smiles.

                           RICKY
               When I was fourteen, my dad caught 
               me smoking dope. He totally freaked 
               and sent me to military school. I 
               told you his whole thing about 
               structure, and discipline, right?
                    (laughs)
               Well, of course, I got kicked out.
               Dad and I had this huge fight, and 
               he hit me... and then the next day, 
               at school, some kid made a crack 
               about my haircut, and I just...  
               snapped. I wanted to kill him. And I 
               would have, if they hadn't pulled me 
               off him.
                    (then)
               That's when my dad put me in the 
               hospital. They drugged me up and I 
               was there for almost two years.

                           JANE
               You must really hate him.

                           RICKY
               He's not really a bad man.  He's 
               just one of those people who needs 
               everybody to make the same choices 
               he did.  So he can feel good about 
               himself.

                           JANE
               Yeah, but you lost two whole years 
               of your life.

                           RICKY
               I didn't lose them.  It taught me 
               how to step back, and just...  watch, 
               and not take everything so personally.  
               And that's something I needed to 
               learn.  That's something everybody 
               needs to learn.

     He grabs a half-smoked JOINT from an ashtray and LIGHTS it.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 92
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               Well... you better believe I'd hate 
               my father if he did something like 
               that to me.
                    (laughs)
               Wait. I do hate my father.

                           RICKY
               Why?

     He passes her the JOINT, then takes the camera and focuses 
     it on her. We see her image on the TV as he videotapes.

                           JANE
               He's a total asshole and he's got 
               the hots for my friend Angela and 
               it's disgusting.

                           RICKY
               What, you'd rather he had the hots 
               for you?

                           JANE
               Gross, no!
                    (then)
               But it'd be nice if I was anywhere 
               near as important to him as she is.

     She LAUGHS, then leans back and takes a drag off the joint.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I know you think my dad's harmless, 
               but you're wrong. He's doing massive 
               psychological damage to me.

                           RICKY
               How?

     JANE looks into the camera, a loopy, stoned grin on her face.

                           JANE
               Hey. I need structure, okay?  I need 
               discipline.

     She LAUGHS.  So does Ricky, and Jane's image on the TV SHAKES 
     a little.  She takes a deep drag off the joint, and Ricky 
     ZOOMS in on her face as she exhales.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I'm serious, though.  How can he not 
               be damaging me?
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 93
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE (CONT'D)
               I need a father who's a role model, 
               not some horny geek-boy who's gonna 
               spray his shorts whenever I bring a 
               girlfriend home from school.
                    (snorts)
               Like he'd ever have a chance with 
               her. What a lame-o. Somebody really 
               should put him out of his misery.

     A beat. JANE plays with her hair, lost in thought.

                           RICKY
               Want me to kill him for you?

     JANE stares at him incredulously, then LAUGHS.

                           JANE
               Yeah, would you?

                           RICKY
               It'll cost you.

                           JANE
               I've been baby-sitting since I was 
               ten, I've got almost three thousand 
               dollars. I was saving it for a boob 
               job.

     She stands and shakes her breasts, then falls back on to the 
     bed, LAUGHING.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
               But my tits can wait.

                           RICKY
               You know, that's not a very nice 
               thing to do, hiring somebody to kill 
               your dad.

                           JANE
               Well, I guess I'm just not a very 
               nice girl, then, am I?

     She smiles dreamily at him.  He turns other camera off and 
     the TV screen goes BLUE.  He lowers the camera and looks at 
     her intently.

                           JANE (CONT'D)
                    (suddenly nervous)
               You know I'm not serious, right?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 94
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
               Of course.

     He puts the camera down and joins JANE on the bed.  a long 
     moment where neither of them speaks.  He caresses her hair, 
     gazing into her eyes.  Jane touches one of the scars on his 
     face.  He smiles.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Do you know how lucky we are to have 
               found each other?

124   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - EARLY MORNING                       124   

     We re FLYING high above ROBIN HOOD TRAIL, just as we were at 
     the beginning, during Lester's dream. We see the BURNHAM'S 
     HOUSE below us as we approach it steadily. The Jims' dog 
     Bitsy looks up at us and BARKS from their yard across the 
     street.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Remember those posters that said, 
               Today is the first day of the rest 
               of your life?  Well, that's true of 
               every day except one.
                    (a beat)
               The day that you die.

     We're almost on top of the Burnham house now, as Lester, 
     wearing sweatpants and running shoes, bursts out of the front 
     door and dashes up the driveway.

125   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - A SHORT TIME LATER                  125   

     We're now at street level, BACKING down Robin Hood Trail as 
     Lester runs toward us. He carries a WALKMAN and wears 
     EARPHONES, and we HEAR The Beatles singing "Back in the 
     U.S.S.R." as he runs. The endorphins have kicked in, and 
     Lester grins, reveling in the sheer physical pleasure of his 
     body.

126   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - A SHORT TIME LATER           126   

     The blender GRINDS as LESTER, still in his sweatpants, makes 
     himself a high-protein shake. He's in excellent shape - even 
     his posture has changed and he moves with the confident, 
     easy swagger of an athlete.  Jane watches him blankly from 
     the kitchen table.

     Carolyn enters.  By now, she hates Lester so much she won't 
     even look at him.  As she rinses out a coffee cup, Lester 
     leans against the counter, drinking his shake directly form 
     the blender pitcher, eyeing her.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 95
     9-29-00                                                     


     He's got newfound sexual energy that makes her uncomfortable, 
     and he knows it.  Carolyn quickly dries off the coffee cup 
     and starts out.

                           CAROLYN
               Jane, Hurry up.  I have a very 
               important appointment -

                           JANE
               Mom, is it okay if Angela sleeps 
               over tonight?

     Jane looks at Lester to see how he reacts.  He doesn't.

                           CAROLYN
               Of course it's okay. She's always 
               welcome here.
                    (on her way out)
               I thought you and Angela might have 
               had a fight. We haven't seen her in 
               a while.

     And she's gone. Jane continues staring at her father.

     Finally, he glances over at her.

                           JANE
                    (nervous)
               I've been too embarrassed to invite 
               her over. Because you always hang 
               around when she comes over, and you, 
               you - stare at her all the time, 
               like you're drunk. It's disgusting.

     A beat.

                           LESTER
               If you don't watch out, you're going 
               to turn into a real bitch, just like 
               your mother.

     JANE is stunned. she quickly rises, trying to get out of the 
     kitchen before he can see her crying. As she goes, we see 
     the immediate regret in Lester's eyes.

127   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - THE SAME TIME                  127   

     RICKY and the COLONEL sit at the table, eating in silence.

     Barbara glides back and forth behind them like a ghost. The 
     Colonel glances at the scars on his son's face... and for a 
     moment, we see the depth of his love for this boy. Then Ricky 
     looks up at him, and the Colonel is suddenly self-conscious.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 96
     9-29-00                                                     


                           COLONEL
               How's your food?

                           RICKY
               It's good.
                    (then)
               Oh, Dad.  I don't need a ride this 
               morning.  I'm going to go in with 
               Jane and her mom.

                           COLONEL
                    (startled)
               Jane?

                           RICKY
               My girlfriend.

     Just then, BARBARA leans in, serving bacon out of a pan.

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               Mom. Bacon?

                           BARBARA
                    (cheerful)
               I know, I remember what you told me, 
               so I made it extra crispy!

     She crosses off. from outside, we HEAR a CAR HORN, and RICKY 
     gets up from the table.

                           RICKY
               Gotta go.

128   EXT. FITTS HOUSE - FRONT PORCH - MOMENTS LATER              128   

     RICKY emerges from the HOUSE, followed By the COLONEL, who 
     watches his son as he heads toward the Burnham house.

     His POV: Carolyn waves from the MERCEDES-BENZ ML320, flashing 
     an insincere smile. Jane leans forward from the passenger 
     seat and glares at us. As Ricky starts to get in the car, 
     Lester emerges from the house in his sweatpants.

                           LESTER
               Yo, Ricky. How's it going?

                           RICKY
               Pretty decent, Mr. Burnham.

     Then RICKY pulls his door shut, But not before LESTER mouths 
     call me and Ricky gives a slight nod in acknowledgment.

     CLOSE on the Colonel's face: he looks confused.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 97
     9-29-00                                                     


     His POV: The car backs out of the driveway. Lester yawns, 
     stretches and runs his hands up and down his torso 
     absentmindedly...and then he glances at us, suddenly aware 
     he's being watched.  He studies us for a beat, then grins 
     and salutes.  He LAUGHS as he turns to go inside the house.

     CLOSE on the Colonel transfixed by what he's just seen, not 
     unlike Lester was when he first saw Angela.

129   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S ROOM - MOMENTS LATER             129   

     The door swings open silently and the COLONEL enters.  He 
     looks through the stuff on top of Ricky's bureau then opens 
     the drawers, sifting through clothing inside.  He opens the 
     DRAWER in which we know Ricky keeps his stash of marijuana, 
     but he doesn't discover its false bottom.  He stands and 
     looks around, his eyes finally landing on:

     A stack of HI-8 VIDEOCASSETTES next to Ricky's computer.

     The COLONEL turns on the TV: we see Matlock, without sound.

     The Colonel grabs a random VIDEOCASSETTE from the stack, 
     pops it into the VIDEO CAMERA, which is still connected to 
     the TV, and, after examining the camera, presses the play 
     button. On the TV, Matlock suddenly gives way to...

     ON VIDEO: Through the Burnham's GARAGE DOOR WINDOW, we see 
     Lester stepping out of his pants. He then pulls off his 
     briefs, and stands there naked, except for black socks. He 
     grabs some dumbbells and starts lifting them over his head; 
     although he's watching his reflection in the window, it looks 
     like he's watching us as we're watching him...

     The Colonel sinks slowly onto Ricky's bed, mesmerized.

130   EXT. PARKING LOT - LATER THAT DAY                           130   

     Carolyn walks across a parking lot with Leonard Kane, the 
     Real Estate King.

                           CAROLYN
               You know, I rarely frequent places 
               like this, but...

     Leonard opens the door of a BUILDING FOR her.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               I think I can allow myself junk food, 
               after the workout we had this morning.

     She SQUEALS with LAUGHTER as they go inside. the door shuts 
     behind them.  On it we see the SMILEY'S LOGO.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 98
     9-29-00                                                     


131   INT. SMILEY'S - CONTINUOUS                                  131   

     A FEW people stand in line at the counter. Carolyn enters 
     with Leonard. He whispers something to her and she LAUGHS 
     uproariously.

     In the KITCHEN, which is separated from the counter By a 
     partition made up of various food service equipment, we see 
     Lester, in a Smiley's uniform and baseball cap, flipping 
     burgers on a grill.  He recognizes Carolyn's LAUGH and peers 
     over the partition.

     His POV: Carolyn and Leonard stand at the counter, scanning 
     the menu overhead.  She leans against him affectionately.

     Lester's face darkens, and then... he smiles.  He adjusts 
     his cap, and crosses toward the counter.

     CLOSE on Carolyn and Leonard, peering UP at the menu.

                           CAROLYN
               What's good here?

                           LEONARD
                    (a grin)
               Nothing.

                           CAROLYN
                    (turns to him)
               Then I guess we'll just have to be 
               bad, won't we?

     And just as they're about to kiss...

                           LESTER (O.S.)
               Smile, you're at Smiley's.

     Carolyn almost jumps out of her skin. She stares at us, 
     startled, and quickly disengages herself from Leonard.

     Her POV: LESTER leers at us, DRIPPING with sarcasm.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Would you like to try our new beef 
               and cheese pot pie on a stick, just 
               a dollar ninety nine, for a limited 
               time only?

     Carolyn struggles to appear nonchalant.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                             p. 99
     9-29-00                                                     


                           CAROLYN
                    (re: Leonard)
               We just came from a seminar.
                    (then, all business)
               Leonard, this is my -

                           LESTER
               Her husband. We've met before, but 
               something tells me you're going to 
               remember this time.

                           CAROLYN
               Lester, please don't -

                           LESTER
                    (loving this)
               Uh-un, You don't get to tell me what 
               to do.  Ever again.

     Carolyn closes her eyes, defeated, then turns and walks out.

     Leonard glances at Lester, embarrassed, then follows Carolyn.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
                    (calls after them)
               Smile!  You're at Smiley's!

132   EXT. TOP HAT MOTEL - A SHORT TIME LATER                     132   

     The sky is filled with ominous gray clouds, and the wind 
     whips garbage across the parking lot as Carolyn's Mercedes- 
     Benz ML320 pulls in next to Leonard's Jaguar.

133   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       133   

     The engine is still running.  Carolyn sits in the driver 
     seat, gripping the wheel tightly and staring straight ahead.

     Leonard looks at her unhappily.

                           LEONARD
               I'm sorry. I just think we should 
               cool it for a while. I'm facing a 
               potentially very expensive divorce.

                           CAROLYN
               Oh, no. I understand completely.
                    (sarcastic)
               In order to be successful, one must 
               project an image of success.  At all 
               times.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 100
     9-29-00                                                     


     She regrets it the second it's out of her mouth, and turns 
     to him. He just looks at her sadly, then gets out of the car 
     and shuts the door. She starts to CRY. As before, she SLAPS 
     herself, hard.

                           CAROLYN (CONT'D)
               Stop it. Stop it!

     She closes her eyes tight, trying to STOP the Tears, then 
     suddenly SCREAMS as loud as she can until she runs out of 
     breath. She opens her eyes, gasping, trying with all her 
     might to overcome this flood of emotion, and then her eyes 
     wander over to...

     Her POV:  the closed glove COMPARTMENT.  we ZOOM toward it 
     slowly, knowing that's where she keeps her GLOCK 19.

     Carolyn takes a breath, shifts into REVERSE and starts to 
     back out of the motel parking lot just as it starts to RAIN.

134   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - THAT NIGHT                    134   

     Jimi Hendrix's "PURPLE HAZE" blasts from the BOOMBOX as 
     Lester, wearing only sweatpants, does a set of preacher curls 
     with dumbbells.  He strains as he finishes his last rep, 
     then puts the weights down and looks at his REFLECTION in 
     the window:

     His POV: his arms are pumped.  He smiles.

     He reaches under the exercise BENCH and grabs a CIGAR BOX.

     Opening it, he digs through ROLLING PAPERS, a PIPE, and other 
     MARIJUANA PARAPHERNALIA, only to pull out an empty ZIP-LOC 
     BAG.  He's really not happy about this.

135   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER                  135   

     RICKY sits at the dinette with his mother and father, eating 
     dinner in silence.

                           BARBARA
                    (out of the blue)
               I'm sorry, what?

                           RICKY
               Mom. Nobody said anything.

                           BARBARA
               Oh. I'm sorry.

     We HEAR a BEEPING noise. RICKY pulls his BEEPER off his belt 
     and checks it.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 101
     9-29-00                                                     


                           RICKY
                    (getting up)
               I have to run next door. My girlfriend 
               left her geometry book in my backpack, 
               and she needs it to do her homework.

     He heads into the hall. the COLONEL watches him go, uneasy.

136   INT. ANGELA'S BMW - THE SAME TIME                           136   

     It's now RAINING HARD outside. The Smithereens' "BLOOD AND 
     ROSES" BLASTS from the STEREO. Angela drives, squinting 
     through the windshield as the wipers move back and forth.

                           ANGELA
               So you and psycho boy are fucking on 
               a regular basis now, right?

                           JANE
                    (irritable)
               No.

                           ANGELA
               Oh, come on.  You can tell me.  Does 
               he have a big dick?

                           JANE
               Look, I don't want to talk about his 
               dick with you.  It's not like that.

                           ANGELA
               Not like what?  Doesn't he have one?
                    (then)
               Jane, don't be a sap and fall for 
               the first guy you have sex with.  
               That is so stupid.

                           JANE
               You know what's stupid?  Only fucking 
               people because you think it'll get 
               you something!  That's pathetic.

     ANGELA rolls her eyes.

                           ANGELA
               We gotta get you a real man.

137   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                     137   

     The COLONEL stands at the sink, rinsing off his dinner plate.

     Something outside catches his eye, and he cranes his neck to 
     get a better look at...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 102
     9-29-00                                                     


     His POV: Through the window over the sink, we can see into 
     the Burnham's GARAGE DOOR WINDOW. Our view is slightly blurred 
     by the pouring RAIN, but we see Lester, walking back and 
     forth. his upper body pumped and glistening in sweat as he 
     counts out a wad of BILLS... and then Ricky walks into view.

     The Colonel's face tightens.

     His POV: LESTER drapes his arm around RICKY as He gives him 
     the money.

138   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    138   

     RICKY, his hair wet from the rain, puts the cash in his 
     pocket. Lester's arm remains draped around his shoulder.

                           LESTER
               Wanna smoke some now?

                           RICKY
               I ought to get back home.

                           LESTER
               Aw, come on.  Just one...

                           RICKY
                    (grins)
               Got any papers?

                           LESTER
               Cigar box, under the bench.
                    (laughs)
               Dude! Put up a fight!  You are a 
               total pushover.

     And He SLAPS RICKY playfully on the chest.

139   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                     139   

     The Colonel's POV:  Lester lets go of Ricky and dances around 
     goofily, still laughing.  Ricky sits on the bench and bends 
     over to reach under it.  From our perspective, it looks like 
     he's untying his shoes.

     The COLONEL watches, incredulous. then we HEAR a CAR 
     APPROACHING, and the Colonel glances over at:

     His POV: Angela's BMW pulls into the driveway, stopping behind 
     Lester's GTO. As Angela and Jane get out and run toward the 
     house, our focus MOVES back to the GARAGE DOOR WINDOW.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 103
     9-29-00                                                     


     Lester, hearing the car door SLAM, looks panicked. He says 
     something to Ricky. Ricky stands and shrugs. Lester pulls on 
     his T-shirt and both he and Ricky cross out of view.

140   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FOYER - CONTINUOUS                     140   

     JANE and ANGELA enter Through the front door, wet from the 
     pouring rain, arguing.

                           ANGELA
               Apparently, dating a psycho makes 
               you totally lose your sense of humor.

                           JANE
               Yeah, well, apparently, fucking 
               everything that walks turns you into 
               a total bitch.

     They head back toward the kitchen.

141   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                   141   

     LESTER holds the back door open as RICKY leaves.

                           LESTER
               Thanks

                           RICKY
               Anytime 

     LESTER closes the door, crosses to the refrigerator and grabs 
     a beer.  Jane and Angela enter.  Jane frowns when she sees 
     him.

                           JANE
               Where's Mom?

                           LESTER
               Don't know.

                           ANGELA
               Hi, Mr. Burnham.

                           LESTER
               Hi.

     He's trying to remain cool, and doing a pretty good job.

                           ANGELA
               Wow. Look at you. Have you been 
               working out?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 104
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
               Some.

     JANE rolls her eyes and exits. ANGELA walks over to Lester.

                           ANGELA
               Well, you can really tell. Look at 
               those arms.

     She places her hand on his arm flirtatiously, looks UP at 
     him and smiles, fully expecting to intimidate him by doing 
     so.

     But something has changed, and he isn't intimidated at all. 
     He looks directly back at her, leans in and smiles slowly.

                           LESTER
               You like muscles?

     His voice is low and intense, and the moment is charged with 
     erotic tension.

                           ANGELA
                    (unnerved)
               Uh, sure. I guess.

     She moves away, Suddenly insecure.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I - I should probably go see what 
               Jane's up to.

     And she heads out quickly.  Lester watches her go, bewildered.

142   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS                142   

     RICKY enters, wet from the pouring rain, and crosses to his 
     bureau, pulling the wad of CASH out of his pocket as he goes.

                           COLONEL (O.S.)
               Where'd you get that?

     RICKY turns, startled.

     His POV: The Colonel steps out of the shadows.  He's staring 
     at us, his eyes blazing.

     RICKY takes a step back.

                           RICKY
               From my job.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 105
     9-29-00                                                     


                           COLONEL
               Don't lie to me. I saw you with that 
               faggot next door.

                           RICKY
                    (incredulous)
               What? Are you spying on me?

                           COLONEL
               What did he make you do?

                           RICKY
               Dad, you don't really think I...  me 
               and Mr. Burnham?

     He LAUGHS.

                           COLONEL
                    (furious)
               Don't you laugh at me!

     And he BACKHANDS RICKY So hard it sends the boy sprawling.

                           COLONEL (CONT'D)
               I will not sit back and watch my 
               only son become a cocksucker!

                           RICKY
               Jesus Christ! What is it with you 
               and gays? You're like, obsessed -

     The COLONEL grabs RICKY By the throat and screams into his 
     face.

                           COLONEL
               Shut up!  I'm not the one going next 
               door to meet my "girlfriend!"

                           RICKY
               Dad, you've got it all wrong -

                           COLONEL
               I swear to God, I'll throw you out 
               of this house and never look at you 
               again.

                           RICKY
                    (taken aback)
               You really mean that?

                           COLONEL
               Damn straight I do.  I'd rather you 
               were dead than be a fucking faggot.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 106
     9-29-00                                                     


     A beat.  RICKY Suddenly smiles.

                           RICKY
               You're right.  I suck dick for money.  
               Look at this, two thousand dollars.  
               I'm that good.

     The COLONEL pushes RICKY away from him in disgust.

                           COLONEL
               Get out.

                           RICKY
               And you should see me fuck. I'm the 
               best piece of ass in three states.

                           COLONEL
                    (explodes)
               Get out!! I don't ever want to see 
               you again!!

     Ricky stands there, eyeing the Colonel. He's finally 
     discovered a way to break free from his father, and he can't 
     believe it was this simple.

                           RICKY
               What a sad old man you are.

     He grabs his backpack, turns and walks out the door, leaving 
     the Colonel standing there, glassy-eyed and breathing heavily.

143   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                     143   

     BARBARA stands at the sink, rinsing one dish for an 
     inordinately long period of time. Ricky enters from the hall.

                           RICKY
               Mom, I'm leaving.

                           BARBARA
               Okay, wear a raincoat.

                           RICKY
                    (hugs her)
               I wish things had been better for 
               you.  Take care of Dad.

     Frightened, Barbara looks into his face, sensing something's 
     up.  He kisses her cheek softly, then exits out the back 
     door, leaving her standing alone in the middle of the room, 
     clutching her dish.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 107
     9-29-00                                                     


144   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS             144   

     The Colonel's POV: Below us, Ricky dashes through the rain 
     to the Burnham's aback door and knocks.  After a moment, 
     Lester opens it and lets him in.

145   EXT. FITTS HOUSE - CONTINUOUS                               145   

     The Colonel looks coldly down at us from Ricky's bedroom 
     window, and then he pulls the drapes shut.

146   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - MOMENTS LATER                  146   

     BARBARA still stands in the middle of the ROOM, clutching 
     her dish. The Colonel enters, opens a cabinet and takes out 
     a BOTTLE of BOURBON. His hands shake as he pours himself a 
     shot.

     He sits at the table and drinks.

147   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S ROOM - MOMENT5 LATER            147   

     JANE and ANGELA are sprawled across the bed, watching Melrose 
     Place.

                           ANGELA
               Why do you even care? You are way 
               too uptight about sex.

                           JANE
               Just don't fuck my dad, okay?  Please? 
               It's too weird. I don't think we 
               could be friends anymore.

                           ANGELA
               Why not?

     There is a KNOCK on the door. JANE sits UP, alarmed.

                           JANE
                    (angry)
               Dad!  Leave us alone!

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               It's me.

     JANE jumps UP and opens the door and lets him in.  an awkward 
     beat, as Ricky and Angela stare at each other, then:

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
                    (to Jane)
               If I had to leave tonight, would you 
               come with me?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 108
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               What?

                           RICKY
               If I went to New York.  To live.  
               Tonight.  Would you come with me?

     A beat.

                           JANE
               Yes.

                           ANGELA
               You guys can't be serious.
                    (to Jane)
               You're just a kid. And he's like, a 
               mental case. You'll end up living in 
               a box on the street.

                           JANE
               I'm no more a kid than you are.  
               Just because you've fucked way more 
               people than I have. And we can use 
               my plastic surgery money.

                           RICKY
               We won't have to. I have over forty 
               thousand dollars. And I know people 
               in the city, they can help us get 
               set up.

                           ANGELA
               What, other drug dealers?

                           RICKY
               Yes.

                           ANGELA
               Jane, you'd be out of your mind to 
               go with him.

                           JANE
               Why do you even care?

                           ANGELA
               Because you're my friend.

                           RICKY
               She's not your friend.  She's somebody 
               you use to feel good about yourself.

                           ANGELA
               Go fuck yourself, psycho.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 109
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               You shut up, bitch!

                           ANGELA
               Jane! He is a freak!

                           JANE
               So am I! And we'll always be freaks 
               and we'll never be like other people. 
               And you'll never be a freak because 
               you're like, too perfect.

                           ANGELA
               Oh, yeah? Well, at least I'm not 
               ugly.

                           RICKY
               Yeah, you are. And you're boring.  
               You are totally ordinary. And you 
               know it.

     ANGELA stares at him, stunned, then starts toward the door.

                           ANGELA
               You two deserve each other.

     And she exits.

148   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    148   

     We're MOVING SLOWLY toward the Burnham's GARAGE DOOR WINDOW 
     through the. RAIN. Through the window, we see Lester, wearing 
     only his sweatpants, performing bench presses.

149   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    149   

     Through the window, we see the COLONEL, standing outside in 
     the pouring rain, watching. We ZOOM slowly in on him as he 
     watches, transfixed.

150   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    150   

     His POV: LESTER finishes his last rep,  straining, then racks 
     the weights and sits up, sweaty and out of breath.  He lights 
     a half finished JOINT and inhales deeply, running his free 
     hand over his chest... and then he glances at us, suddenly 
     aware he's being watched.

151   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    151   

     LESTER and the COLONEL stare at each other Through the window.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 110
     9-29-00                                                     


152   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - MOMENTS LATER                 152   

     The rain is coming down in sheets Now, and there is a sharp 
     CLAP of THUNDER.  We're directly outside the GARAGE DOOR as 
     it slowly lifts to reveal Lester smiling at us.

                           LESTER
               Jesus, man.  You're soaked.

153   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    153   

     LESTER pulls the COLONEL inside.  the COLONEL moves stiffly 
     and seems preoccupied, slightly disoriented.

                           LESTER
               You want me to get Ricky? He's up in 
               Jane's room.

     The COLONEL just stands there, looking at Lester.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You okay?

                           COLONEL
                    (his voice thick)
               Where's your wife? 

                           LESTER
               Uh... Probably off fucking that dorky 
               prince of real estate asshole. And 
               you know what?
                    (laughs)
               I don't care.

154   EXT. FREEWAY - CONTINUOUS                                   154   

     The MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 is parked in the breakdown lane, its 
     HAZARD LIGHTS BLINKING. Cars ZOOM past in the rain.

155   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       155   

     Carolyn sits behind the wheel, holding her GLOCK 19, listening 
     to a MOTIVATIONAL TAPE on the STEREO. Her PURSE lies open on 
     the passenger seat.

                           TAPE VOICE
               ...only by taking full responsibility 
               for your problems - and their 
               solutions - will you break free from 
               the constant cycle of victimhood.  
               Remember: you are only a victim if 
               you choose to be.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 111
     9-29-00                                                     


156   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - GARAGE - CONTINUOUS                    156   

     The COLONEL and LESTER, as before

                           COLONEL
               Your wife is with another man and 
               you don't care.

                           LESTER
               Nope.  Our marriage is just for show.  
               It's a commercial, proving how normal 
               we are, when we are anything but.

     He grins... and So does the Colonel.  LESTER realizes the 
     Colonel is shivering.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Dude.  You're shaking.

     He places his hand on the Colonel's shoulder.  The Colonel 
     closes his eyes.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               We really should get you out of these 
               clothes.

                           COLONEL
                    (a whisper)
               Yes...

     He opens his eyes and looks at LESTER, his face Suddenly 
     filled with an anguished vulnerability we wouldn't have 
     thought possible from him. His eyes are brimming with tears. 
     Lester leans in, concerned.

                           LESTER
               It's okay.

                           COLONEL
                    (hoarse)
               I...

                           LESTER
                    (softly)
               Just tell me what you need.

     The Colonel reaches up and places his hand on Lester's 
     cheek... and then kisses him. Lester is momentarily stunned, 
     and then he pushes the Colonel away. The Colonel's face 
     crumples in shame.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 112
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               Whoa.  You got the wrong idea, pal.  
               I do not go there.

     The COLONEL stares at the floor, blinking, and then He turns 
     and runs out the open garage door into the rainy night.

157   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       157   

     Carolyn is at the wheel, as before.  she Suddenly switches 
     off the MOTIVATIONAL TAPE on the STEREO, her face resolute.

                           CAROLYN
               I refuse to be a victim.

     She puts the gun in her PURSE, and pulls out into traffic.

158   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS                   158   

     LESTER enters, still clad ONLY in sweatpants, and opens the 
     refrigerator and grabs a BEER. Suddenly we HEAR the opening 
     strains of Etta James singing "AT LAST."  Lester opens his 
     beer and starts toward the family room.

159   INT. BURNER HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - CONTINUOUS                159   

     His POV: as we move slowly around a corner, ANGELA comes 
     into view, standing at the STEREO, holding a CD case. She 
     looks up at us. She's been crying; her face is a little puffy, 
     and her hair mussed. She regards us apprehensively... then 
     puts on a slightly defiant smile.

                           ANGELA
               I hope you don't mind if I play the 
               stereo...

     LESTER leans against the wall and takes a swig of his beer.

                           LESTER
               Not at all.

     They stand there in silence; the atmosphere is charged.

                           ANGELA
               Jane and I had a fight.
                    (after a beat)
               It was about you.

     She's trying to be seductive as she says this, but she's 
     pretty bad at it. Lester raises his eyebrows.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 113
     9-29-00                                                     


                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               She's mad at me because I said I 
               think you're sexy.

     LESTER grins. He is sexy.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               And she doesn't want anything to 
               happen between us.

                           LESTER
               I'm not that interested in what she 
               wants.

     He takes ANOTHER swig of beer, then moves toward her.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               What you want, however... I wouldn't 
               mind hearing about.

                           ANGELA
               I...

     He reaches her, and takes the CD Case from her hands.

                           LESTER
                    (offering his beer)
               Would you like a sip?

                           ANGELA
               Sure...

     He holds the bottle UP to her mouth, and she drinks clumsily.

                           LESTER
               So... are you going to tell me?  
               What you want?

                           ANGELA
               I don't know.

                           LESTER
               You don't know?

     His face is very close to hers. She's unnerved - this is 
     happening too fast...

                           ANGELA
               What do you want?

                           LESTER
               Are you kidding? I want you.
                           (MORE)

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 114
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER (CONT'D)
                    (his voice husky)
               I've wanted you ever since I saw 
               you.

     He holds the beer UP to her lips again. she sips, and This 
     time some dribbles down her chin. Lester gently wipes her 
     chin with his fingertip, then licks the beer off it.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You're the most beautiful thing I've 
               ever seen.

                           ANGELA
               You don't think I'm ordinary?

                           LESTER
               You couldn't be ordinary if you tried.

                           ANGELA
               Thank you.

     ANGELA takes a deep breath just before LESTER leans in to 
     kiss her cheek, her forehead, her eyelids, her neck...

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
                    (far away)
               I don't think there's anything worse 
               than being ordinary...

     And he kisses her on the lips.

160   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       160   

     Carolyn drives, her face resolute.

                           CAROLYN
               I refuse to be a victim.  I refuse 
               to be a victim.  I refuse to be a 
               victim...

161   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - MOMENTS LATER            161   

     Angela lays back on the couch as Lester moves in over her, 
     unbuttoning her blouse'. She seems disconnected from what's 
     happening - not fighting it, but not really taking part in 
     it either. Lester pulls her blouse open, exposing her breasts. 
     He kisses her neck and starts working his way down...

162   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE' S ROOM - CONTINUOUS              162   

     Ricky and Jane, fully clothed, lie curled up on Jane's bed.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 115
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE
               Are you scared?

                           RICKY
               I don't get scared.

                           JANE
               My parents will try to find me.

                           RICKY
               Mine won't. And I always figured I'd 
               have to wait until I was twenty-one.
                    (then)
               We could go further than New York.  
               Chicago, L.A., Europe even.

                           JANE
               I've always wanted to go to Spain.

                           RICKY
               Let's do it.  We're not living for 
               anybody but ourselves.  Not any more.

     JANE smiles contentedly.  RICKY strokes her hair.

                           JANE
               You really think we could have a 
               normal life somewhere?

                           RICKY
               Yeah.  We're totally free.

163   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - CONTINUOUS               163   

     We're CLOSE on Lester and Angela, in profile, his face above 
     hers.  Her eyes are shut.  Lester looks down at her, grinning, 
     unable to believe he's actually about to do what he's dreamed 
     of so many times... and then Angela opens her eyes and looks 
     up at him.

                           ANGELA
               This is my first time.

     Lester LAUGHS.

                           LESTER
               You're kidding.

                           ANGELA
                    (a whisper)
               I'm sorry.

     A beat. LESTER looks down at her, his grin fading.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 116
     9-29-00                                                     


     His POV: ANGELA lies beneath us, Embarrassed and vulnerable.

     This is not the mythically carnal creature of Lester's 
     fantasies; this is a nervous child.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I still want to do it... I just 
               thought I should tell you... you 
               know, in case you wondered why I 
               wasn't... better...

                           LESTER
                    (compassionate)
               Aw honey.

     He smiles and brushes a lock of hair from her forehead. after 
     a moment, she smiles back, shyly.  He lingers above her, 
     drinking in this vision of her... oh, man... and then he 
     sighs and moves off of her.  She looks bewildered.

                           ANGELA
               What's wrong?

     LESTER gathers her clothes form the floor and hands them to 
     her.  Angela is stunned.

                           ANGELA (CONT'D)
               I thought you said I was beautiful.

                           LESTER
               You are beautiful.

     LESTER grabs a blanket from the back of the couch and drapes 
     it around her shoulders, covering her nakedness.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You're so beautiful... and I would 
               be a very lucky man, but...

     He smiles and shakes his head. Humiliated, she starts to 
     cry.

                           ANGELA
               I feel so stupid...

                           LESTER
               Don't...

     He hugs her, letting her put her head on his shoulder, 
     stroking her hair and rocking her gently.

                           ANGELA
               I'm sorry.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 117
     9-29-00                                                     


     LESTER takes her By the shoulders and looks at her, serious.

                           LESTER
               You have nothing to be sorry about.

     But she keeps crying. LESTER hugs her again. we HEAR a loud 
     CLAP of THUNDER outside.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               It's okay...  everything's okay...

164   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - THE SAME TIME                       164   

     The MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 pulls onto ROBIN Hood Trail.

165   INT. MERCEDES-BENZ ML320 - CONTINUOUS                       165   

     CLOSE on Carolyn's eyes, reflected in the REAR-VIEW MIRROR.

                           CAROLYN
               I refuse to be a victim...

     In the mirror, we see her turn her head.

     Her POV:  We're driving in SLOW MOTION past the Burnham 
     house... the RED DOOR, illuminated by the craftsman-style 
     PORCH LIGHT, stands out, even in the pouring rain.

166   EXT.  ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - CONTINUOUS                         166   

     CLOSE on ANGELA, eating a turkey sandwich.

                           ANGELA
                    (mouth full)
               Wow.  I was starving...

     She's seated at the snack bar in the kitchen, once again 
     fully dressed.  From the TV in the next room, we can hear a 
     sitcom's CANNED LAUGHTER.

     LESTER, in his sweatpants and a T-shirt, puts a jar of 
     mayonnaise back in the refrigerator, then crosses to the 
     sink to rinse off a knife.

                           LESTER
               Want me to make you another one?

                           ANGELA
               No, no, no. I'm fine.

     He turns to her and cocks an eyebrow.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 118
     9-29-00                                                     


                           LESTER
                    (concerned)
               Really?

                           ANGELA
               Yes. Stop asking me that.

                           LESTER
               Okay, just checking.

     He turns off the faucet and joins her at the snack bar.

     Angela reaches for the beer and takes a swig, then passes it 
     to Lester. He takes it but doesn't drink.

                           ANGELA
               I mean, yeah, I'm still a little 
               weirded but...
                    (sincerely)
               ...but feel better. Thanks.

     A long beat, as LESTER studies her, then:

                           LESTER
               How's Jane?

                           ANGELA
               What do you mean?

                           LESTER
               I mean, how's her life?  Is she happy?  
               Is she miserable?  I'd like to know, 
               and she'd die before she'd ever tell 
               me about it.

     ANGELA shifts uncomfortably.  does she tell him about JANE 
     and Ricky? Finally:

                           ANGELA
               She's...she's really happy.  She 
               thinks she's in love.

     ANGELA rolls her eyes at how silly This is. LESTER just 
     smiles.

                           LESTER
                    (quietly)
               Good for her.

     An awkward beat.

                           ANGELA
               How are you?

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 119
     9-29-00                                                     


     LESTER seems somewhat taken aback By This question.

                           LESTER
                    (laughs)
               It's been a long time since anybody 
               asked me that. I'm...
                    (thinks about it)
               I'm great.

     They just sit there, Smiling at each other, then:

                           ANGELA
                    (suddenly)
               I have to go to the bathroom.

     She jumps UP and crosses off. LESTER watches her go, then 
     rubs his face, suddenly tired.

                           LESTER
               I'm great...

     Something at the edge of the snack bar Suddenly catches his 
     eye, and he reaches for...

     CLOSE on a framed PHOTOGRAPH as he picks it up:  It's the 
     same one we saw earlier of him, Carolyn, and a much-younger 
     Jane, taken several years ago at an amusement park.  It's 
     startling how happy they look.

     CLOSE on Lester as he studies the picture - he's spellbound, 
     just as the Colonel was when looking at the photo of himself 
     and the other young serviceman.  We suddenly become aware of 
     the SOUND of water DRIPPING.  Pulled out of his reverie, 
     Lester glances up at:

     WATER DRIPPING slowly from the KITCHEN faucet.

     ANGLE ON Lester, in profile.  He puts the photograph down, 
     props his elbows on the snack bar, clasps his hands together 
     and rests his chin on them, thinking.  This almost gives him 
     the appearance of praying, and he suddenly appears older, 
     more mature... and then he smiles: the deep, satisfied smile 
     of a man who just now understands the punch line of a joke 
     he heard long ago...

     After a beat, the barrel of a Gun rises UP behind his head.

     ANGLE on an arrangement of fresh-cut ROSES in a vase on the 
     opposite counter, deep crimson against the WHITE TILE WALL.  
     From the TV in the next room, we still hear CANNED LAUGHTER.

     Then a GUNSHOT suddenly rings out, ECHOING unnaturally.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 120
     9-29-00                                                     


     Instantly, the tile is sprayed with BLOOD, the same deep 
     crimson as the roses. The CANNED LAUGHTER continues, and 
     then the SOUND FADES as everything starts to BRIGHTEN, and 
     the SCREEN GOES WHITE.

     We HEAR a RUSH of WIND.

     FADE IN:

167   EXT. SKY - DAY                                              167   

     We're FLYING, above a snowy white blanket of clouds. Lester 
     comes into view below us, FLYING Superman-style. He's wearing 
     the same old-fashioned PAJAMAS and plaid flannel ROBE he 
     wore in his dream at the beginning.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               They say your entire life flashes in 
               front of your eyes when you die.

168   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT                 168   

     We're looking down at Ricky and Jane, curled up on Jane's 
     bed, the night of Lester's murder. We HEAR a GUNSHOT from 
     downstairs. Ricky and Jane look at each other, alarmed.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               It's not really your entire life...

169   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - POWDER ROOM - NIGHT                    169   

     ANGELA stands in front of the mirror, brushing her hair. we 
     HEAR the GUNSHOT again.  Angela freezes, frightened.

                           LESTER
               It's just the moments that stood 
               out...

170   EXT. BURNHAM HOUSE - NIGHT                                  170   

     We're MOVING slowly through the pouring rain toward the 
     Burnham's RED FRONT DOOR...

     A REVERSE ANGLE reveals Carolyn, walking slowly toward us, 
     drenched to the bone, clutching her PURSE tightly.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And they're not the ones you'd expect, 
               either...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 121
     9-29-00                                                     


171   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FOYER - NIGHT                          171   

     RICKY comes down the stairs, followed By Jane. Finding nothing 
     in the family room, he starts toward the kitchen.

     Ricky's POV: Through the doorway, we see a slowly spreading 
     POOL of BLOOD on the WHITE TILE FLOOR beyond. MOVING closer, 
     we see Lester's lifeless arm splayed across the floor, and a 
     .44MAGNUM REVOLVER positioned on the floor next to it.

     RICKY stares wide-eyed, But not afraid. behind him, JANE 
     stands shaking, in shock.

                           JANE
               Oh God...

     Ricky kneels next to the body, gazing reverently at what's 
     left of Lester's face. A woman's high-pitched SCREAM suddenly 
     cuts through the silence. Ricky looks up at:

     His POV: Carolyn stands in the doorway to the dining room, 
     soaking wet, still clutching her PURSE.

                           CAROLYN
                    (ashen)
               My kitchen...

     Just then, we HEAR another high-pitched SCREAM:

     ANGELA stands in the doorway to the FAMILY ROOM, holding 
     herself tightly. She starts to cry.

     The pool of BLOOD spreads closer to the .44 MAGNUM. Ricky 
     picks the gun up and moves it across the floor.

                           RICKY
                    (after a beat)
               Man, I wish I had my video camera.

172   INT. FITTS HOUSE - COLONEL' S STUDY - NIGHT                 172   

     The Colonel enters, still wet.  He's wearing LATEX GLOVES.

     Flecks of BLOOD cover the front of his T-shirt. He paces 
     nervously in front of one of his GUN CASES; the GLASS DOOR 
     is open, and a gun is conspicuously missing from inside.  
     The Colonel suddenly looks down at the BLOOD on  his T-shirt.  
     He pulls the shirt off and wads it into a ball.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               The moments you remember are tiny 
               ones, some you haven't thought of in 
               years...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 122
     9-29-00                                                     


173   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - MASTER BATHROOM - NIGHT                173   

     Carolyn enters, terrified, still clutching her PURSE.  she 
     shuts the door and locks it, then takes the GLOCK 19 out of 
     her purse and shoves it into the LAUNDRY HAMPER, pushing it 
     far down underneath the dirty clothes.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               If you've thought of them at all...

174   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S ROOM - NIGHT                     174   

     The COLONEL, still wearing GLOVES, enters with a DUFFLEBAG.

     He starts stuffing Ricky's VIDEOCASSETTES into the bag.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               But in the last second of your life, 
               you remember them with astonishing 
               clarity...

175   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT                        175   

     The POLICE have arrived. JANE and RICKY watch as a DETECTIVE 
     wearing LATEX GLOVES picks up the .44 MAGNUM and places it 
     in a PLASTIC BAG. Through the doorway1 we see into the family 
     room where Detective Fleishman, whom we recognize from the 
     beginning, questions Angela, who can't stop crying.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Because they're just so...  
               beautiful...

     Carolyn enters, Having freshened UP and put on a little 
     lipstick. She starts to make coffee.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               ...that they must have been imprinted, 
               on like a cellular level...

176   INT. FITTS HOUSE RICKY'S ROOM - DAY                         176   

     The COLONEL stands in the doorway watching as a DETECTIVE 
     searching through Ricky's BUREAU DRAWERS discovers the FALSE 
     BOTTOM and the bags of MARIJUANA beneath it.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               For me it was, lying on my back at 
               Boy Scout camp, watching falling 
               stars...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 123
     9-29-00                                                     


177   EXT. WOODS - NIGHT                                          177   

     We FLASH on an image, in HIGH-CONTRAST BLACK & WHITE: eleven- 
     year-old Lester looks up, point excitedly at:

     His POV: a single DOT of light falls across an unbelievably 
     starry sky...

178   ON TELEVISION: LOCAL NEWS SET - NIGHT                       178   

     A LOCAL NEWSCASTER sits behind a desk, addressing us in that 
     earnest, stilted manner all local newscasters seem to have.

                           NEWSCASTER
               ... police have identified the suspect 
               as nineteen-year-old Richard Anthony 
               Fitts, an alleged drug dealer with a 
               history of mental illness...

179   INT. POLICE STATION - INTERROGATION ROOM - DAY              179   

     RICKY sits at a table, being questioned By DETECTIVE Fleishman 
     and another detective.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And yellow leaves from the ginkgo 
               trees that lined our street...

180   EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - NIGHT                                180   

     Again, we FLASH on an image, in BLACK & WHITE: Ginkgo trees 
     in autumn, and ghostly LEAVES FLUTTERING slowly toward 
     pavement...

181   INT. FITTS HOUSE - RICKY'S ROOM - DAY                       181   

     The Colonel sits on Ricky's bed in his bathrobe, holding a 
     REMOTE. Beside him is a stack of HI-8 VIDEOCASSETTES. On the 
     WIDE-SCREEN TV, we see Jane in Ricky's bed.

                           JANE
               ...Like he'd ever have a chance with 
               her. What a lame-o. Somebody really 
               should put him out of his misery.

     On the TV: JANE plays with her hair, lost in thought.

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               Want me to kill him for you?

     CLOSE on the Colonel's face, as he watches this.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 124
     9-29-00                                                     


                           JANE (O.S.)
               Yeah, would you?

                           RICKY (O.S.)
               It'll cost you.

                           JANE (O.S.)
               I've been baby-sitting since I was 
               ten, I've got almost three thousand 
               dollars.

182   INT. POLICE STATION - LOBBY - DAY                           182   

     The same suburban POLICE STATION from the beginning.  the 
     Colonel enters, carrying a MANILA ENVELOPE.  As he approaches 
     the front desk, the uniformed clerk behind it looks up at 
     him impassively.

183   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FOYER - DAY                            183   

     Carolyn opens the front door to reveal Detective Fleishman, 
     with a pained expression on his face.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Or my grandmother's hands, and the 
               way her skin seemed like paper...

184   INT. SUBURBAN HOUSE - DAY                                   184   

     Another FLASH, in BLACK & WHITE: CLOSE on an ancient woman's 
     papery HANDS as they button a cardigan sweater...

185   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - JANE'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER         185   

     JANE lies on her bed, staring at the ceiling. DETECTIVE 
     Fleishman enters, looking at her gravely. Carolyn is behind 
     him, crying, and Jane sits up, apprehensive.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And the first time I saw my cousin 
               Tony's brand new GTO...

186   EXT. SUBURB - DAY                                           186   

     Another FLASH, in BLACK & WHITE: A 1968 PONTIAC GTO in the 
     driveway of a suburban home. The SUN'S REFLECTION in the 
     windshield FLASHES BRILLIANTLY...

187   EXT. NEWSSTAND - DAY                                        187   

     CLOSE on the cover of the new York post, atop a stack of 
     papers at a NYC newsstand.  On the first page is a grainy 
     PICTURE of Jane in court.

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 125
     9-29-00                                                     


     The HEADLINE screams: VIDEOTAPE SHOCKER! JANE PAID DAD'S 
     KILLER WITH BABY-SITTING MONEY

188   ON TELEVISION: INT. COURTROOM - DAY                         188   

     ANGELA is on the witness stand.  at the lower right corner 
     of the screen is the JUSTICE TV logo.

                           ANGELA
               ...he was obsessed with like, dead 
               things.  Whenever he saw something 
               dead, he'd film it on that stupid 
               video camera.  He said it was 
               beautiful.

189   EXT. HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS - DAY                               189   

     ON VIDEO: A dead BIRD lays on the asphalt, decomposing, 
     covered with ants and flies. The camera JERKS up to discover 
     Jane and Angela staring at us.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And the way I felt when Angela first 
               smiled at me...

190   EXT. HIGH SCHOOL GYM - NIGHT                                190   

     Another FLASH in BLACK & WHITE:

     Lester's POV, from the. night he was first introduced to 
     Angela: She looks at us and smiles.

191   INT. COURTROOM - DAY                                        191   

     JANE and her lawyers stand as the JURY FOREMAN reads the 
     verdict.

                           JURY FOREMAN
               We find the defendant guilty of murder 
               in the first degree.

     CLOSE on Jane, utterly unable to comprehend how her life is 
     being taken away from her like this.

     In the courtroom, Carolyn starts to WEEP. She's comforted by 
     Leonard Kane, the Real Estate King.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               Carolyn...

192   EXT. AMUSEMENT PARK - DAY                                   192   

     Another FLASH in BLACK & WHITE:

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 126
     9-29-00                                                     


     Carolyn sits across from us in one of those SPINNING-TEACUP 
     RIDES, laughing uncontrollably as she twists the wheel in 
     front of her, making us SPIN even faster...

193   ON TELEVISION: EXT. COURTHOUSE - DAY                        193   

     The COLONEL stands on the steps of a COURTHOUSE, surrounded 
     by reporters thrusting MICROPHONES at him.  Barbara stands 
     at his side, smiling.

                           COLONEL
               I'm here to support my son.  He's my 
               son and I love him. No matter what 
               he did.

     He walks away stiffly.  it takes BARBARA a moment to realize 
     he's gone.

194   INT. COURTROOM - DAY                                        194   

     CLOSE on Ricky at the defendant's table, calm and composed.

                           DIFFERENT JURY FOREMAN (O.S.)
               ... find the defendant guilty of 
               murder in the first degree.

     Ricky smiles slightly but doesn't blink.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And Janie.

195   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - NIGHT                                  195   

     Another FLASH in BLACK & WHITE:

     7-YEAR-OLD JANE, dressed for Halloween in a princess costume, 
     holds her mask in front of her face, peeking out from behind 
     it, smiling at us shyly as Carolyn makes adjustments to her 
     costume.

196   EXT. ROBIN HOOD TRAIL - DAY                                 196   

     The two Jims jog by in front of the Burnham House. A "FOR 
     SALE" SIGN in the front lawn reads:

     Contact LEONARD KANE/CAROLYN BURNHAM "The King & Queen of 
     Real Estate Kane/BURNHAM REALTY

                                                       (CONTINUED)

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     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 127
     9-29-00                                                     


     555-1957

197   INT. JUVENILE PRISON FACILITY - DAY                         197   

     A DAY room. Guards keep watch on a GROUP of TEENAGE GIRL 
     inmates .Jane sits huddled in a corner, staring blankly into 
     space, numb.

198   ON TELEVISION: EXT. CALIFORNIA BEACH - DAY                  198   

     We're watching the credits for a Melrose Place-type TV SHOW.

     Angela, in a bikini, runs out of the surf toward us.  The 
     words "and ANGELA HAYES as Julie" appear SUPERIMPOSED over 
     this.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And Carolyn's roses..

199   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT                        199   

     Another FLASH, in BLACK & WHITE:

     LESTER'S POV, from the night he died: We're looking at fresh-
     cut ROSES in a vase on the kitchen counter.

200   INT. FITTS HOUSE - DEN - NIGHT                              200   

     CLOSE on a fire, burning in a fireplace.  Suddenly, a 
     PHOTOGRAPH drops onto the flaming logs.  It's the Colonel's 
     PHOTOGRAPH we saw earlier, of him and the other young 
     serviceman standing in the front of a Jeep.  It CRACKLES and 
     blackens, and then it's gone.

     The Colonel sits in a leather wing chair by the fireplace, 
     staring into the fire. He looks older than before, and his 
     eyes are blank, like Jane's.

201   INT. FITTS HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY                            201   

     BARBARA stands at an ironing board, ironing a WHITE T-shirt.

     She HUMS softly as she meticulously folds the T-shirt and 
     places it atop a stack of equally obsessively folded clothing.

     She then reaches into a laundry basket and gets another T- 
     SHIRT to iron...

     CLOSE on her hands as she spreads the T-shirt out on the 
     ironing board: it's FLECKED WITH DRIED BLOOD.

     BARBARA stops HUMMING, confused. she stares at the shirt FOR 
     a long beat, then glances around, opens a kitchen drawer and

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 128
     9-29-00                                                     


     stuffs the T-shirt inside. She then resumes ironing, without 
     humming.

202   INT. JAIL CELL - DAY                                        202   

     CLOSE on RICKY, staring at us, smiling. we HEAR WATER DRIPPING 
     steadily. We start PULLING back...

                           RICKY
                    (singing softly)
               AND IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER IF I'M 
               WRONG I'M RIGHT...

     His POV: we ZOOM slowly toward the faucet as drops of WATER 
     gather at the tip, A FLASH of LIGHT refracting through each 
     one momentarily before it falls... as WE GET CLOSER, time 
     seems to SLOW DOWN, an the last drop we see seems huge, a 
     shining sphere filled with LIGHT...

     And beauty...

                           RICKY (CONT'D)
               WHERE I BELONG I'M RIGHT... WHERE I 
               BELONG...

203   INT. BURNHAM HOUSE - FAMILY ROOM - NIGHT                    203   

     Another FLASH in BLACK & WHITE:

     Lester's POV, from the night he died: Angela's lying naked 
     on the couch beneath us, embarrassed by her virginity.

                           ANGELA
                    (a whisper)
               I'm sorry.

204   EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY                                      204   

     ON VIDEO: We're watching the video Ricky showed Jane earlier, 
     of the empty white PLASTIC BAG being blown about. The wind 
     carries it in a circle around us, sometimes whipping it about 
     violently, or, without warning, sending it soaring skyward, 
     then letting it float gracefully down to the ground...

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               I guess I could be pretty pissed off 
               about what happened to me...  but 
               it's hard to stay mad, when there's 
               so much beauty in the world. Sometimes 
               I feel like I'm seeing it all at 
               once, and it's too much, my heart 
               fills up like a balloon that's about 
               to burst...

                                                       (CONTINUED)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Screenplay-American_Beauty                            p. 129
     9-29-00                                                     


205   EXT. SKY - DAY                                              205   

     LESTER continues to FLY above the clouds, LAUGHING.

                           LESTER (V.O.)
               And then I remember to relax, and 
               stop trying to hold on to it, and 
               then it flows through me like rain 
               and I can't feel anything but 
               gratitude for every single moment of 
               my stupid little life...

     He's SOARING higher and higher...

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You have no idea what I'm talking 
               about, I'm sure... but don't worry...

     And He SOARS out of sight.

                           LESTER (CONT'D)
               You will someday.

     FADE to BLACK.